View also in the ONLINE VERSION or FLIP BOOK.
Read more about the SCM...
Early in the morning on Saturday, September 19, the staff at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, logged into the DZ computer to see the first video uploads already coming in from DZs in the Eastern time zone.
Over the last two years, the skydiving fatality rate in the U.S. has reached record low levels. Overall, skydivers across the globe are also doing a better job with safety. (Thank you all for that.) But when even one of us is lost or injured in a skydiving accident, it is one too many.
In 1997, Patty Chernis, newly elected to the USPA Board as a regional director, suggested that USPA create a special day to get jumpers current and prepared for the upcoming skydiving season. Now in its 25th year, Safety Day has grown increasingly popular, morphing from year to year to address current trends.
The weekend of January 15th was chosen, with six jumps scheduled, three for Saturday and three for Sunday.
It's a topic that nearly all skydivers face at some point in their skydiving careers: downsizing. And it's a discussion that the Performance Designs staff has had with numerous skydivers of all experience levels over the years. Now, with the majority of incidents in skydiving occurring under fully open (and fully functional) canopies, it’s that much more important to talk about when it is and is not appropriate to downsize.
The Golden Anniversary of freefall parachuting will be April 28 of this year, a hallmark in aviation’s short and often turbulent history. Fifty years ago one man became the harbinger of today’s advanced and sophisticated “skydiving” techniques, one jump changed the role of the parachute and those who were to use them. That momentous day was April 28, 1919 and the man was Leslie L. Irvin, truly one of aviation’s great figures.
The U.S. Parachute Association sponsored the 50-year anniversary parachute exhibition on April 27, 1969 at McCook Field (now Kettering Park), Dayton, Ohio.
When a canopy pilot moves through air that is itself moving, that air continuously affects the parachute’s speed and path over the ground. When you are trying to make it back to the landing area, merely pointing the canopy’s nose toward the target may not be enough. If you do not compensate for the effects of the surface winds, you will most likely miss your target. Given that wind conditions change constantly, being able to properly read and compensate for them is an important skill set for students and competition pilots alike.
From July 26-August 4, the skies over Ottawa, Illinois, blossomed with canopies during Skydive Chicago’s much-anticipated megaboogie, Summerfest. More than 800 jumpers from all corners of the world came to the drop zone resort to get on one of the nearly 700 loads during the nine-day boogie.
It was a delightful early November evening in DeLand, Florida, when 30 or so friends and family members gathered to honor Raymond E. Ferrell as USPA presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
The annual audit of USPA for 2016, which Rogers & Co. of Vienna, Virginia, completed in August 2017, reported sound fiscal management and accountability measures. In 2016, revenues of $3,486,623 exceeded expenses of $3,467,585, leaving USPA with an operational excess (not including investments) of $19,038. USPA had a total excess of $218,957 after including investment gains, interest and dividends.
Each year, the International Skydiving Museum inducts a select few men and women who have “defined, promoted, inspired and advanced the sport at the highest levels” into its Hall of Fame. This year marks the organization’s 11th class of honorees.
Each year for the past decade, the International Skydiving Museum has inducted a select few men and women who have “defined, promoted, inspired and advanced the sport at the highest levels” into its Hall of Fame. This year’s induction ceremony and banquet for the 10 newest honorees will take place during the 2019 International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame Celebration October 17-19 at Skydive Perris in California.
Twenty-five years is no small amount of anyone’s lifetime. A quarter of a century. Roughly one-third of the lifespan of an average American male. And the number of years Ed Scott has dedicated to the U.S. Parachute Association, the sport of skydiving and skydivers across the United States and around the world.
In October, the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame held its 10th annual Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive Perris in California.
In 2018, 13 people died during skydives in the U.S. This is the lowest annual fatality number since 1961, when USPA (then the Parachute Club of America) began keeping statistics. That year, 14 jumpers died, and the number of fatalities steadily increased for the next two decades before they began to drop in the early 1980s. Considering the increase in skydiving activity over the last 57 years, this is a phenomenal achievement.
Some say that aging gracefully is hard. But on Saturday, November 10, Skydive Elsinore in California showed that time is on its side and age is just a number as it celebrated 60 years of top-notch skydiving at the drop zone’s home, Skylark Airfield. Current, former and aspiring jumpers flocked to the event. Among them was Larry Perkins, the son of the drop zone’s founder, Cy Perkins, who on March 1, 1958, took a skydiver (whose name is lost to time) up in his Cessna 172 and let him fall out.
One of USPA’s most vital functions in pursuit of its mission to “support skydiving and those who enjoy it” is safeguarding skydiving’s rightful place in the national airspace system, which includes public airports.
No great adventure was ever achieved by staring at a phone. Well, unless you’re a skydiver who spotted a post on social media about a Huey-helicopter-based innhopp (a nomadic skydiving adventure where you’re not told the itinerary) in Namibia, Africa, and decided to sign up! Noted innhopp organizer Even Rokne and aerial cinematographer Tommy Papatango put together the event, which included jumps into 23 locations, overnight stays at five-star lodges and an adventure spanning 1,600-miles.
Each year, the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame inducts a select few men and women who have “defined, promoted, inspired and advanced the sport at the highest levels.” This year’s induction ceremony and gala dinner for the 10 newest members will take place during the 2018 International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame Celebration November 1-3 at Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida.
As you all know there is a glaring need for a nation-wide system of qualified parachute instructors. I will not beat the bushes about the fact of life that most accidents are rooted in poor or inadequate training. The USPA Safety and Training Committee has been working on the development of a Jumpmaster/Instructor system for several years, and is at this time proposing such a system be incorporated into the operation of the USPA.
On the morning of September 2, 9-year-old Dessa Blaine looked up above the small town of Page, Arizona, and saw her father, David, become a tiny dot in the sky.
Have you ever noticed how two containers with the same number of jumps on them can look vastly different? This is a result of many factors, which you should take into account every time you use your rig.
On January 30 at Skydive DeLand in Florida, the two questions on the minds of the team of 48 international skydivers were, “What does it mean and why are we doing this?”
On December 16, just days before the start of the USPA National Collegiate Skydiving Championships at Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, beloved DZ Manager Betty Hill succumbed to cancer after a battle of 20 years.
The Star Crest Emblem (eight-man star patch) stems from an idea that came to mind last year for the promotion of relative work on a more refined scale and to commemorate the efforts of the late Bob Buquor who played a major role in the origin of star formation relative work.
For the 11th year, Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, delivered Summerfest—its annual midsummer celebration of all things skydiving—July 28 through August 5. Jumpers from all over the world gathered for a week of blue skies, nightly entertainment and what returning attendees describe as “the ultimate sky family reunion.”
For many years, most jumpers regarded the parachute as a necessary evil. It was simply the device that stopped the freefall, allowing the jumper to survive the skydive in order to make another freefall.
In 2021, the USPA Sisters in Skydiving program celebrates its 10th anniversary!
USPA is celebrating the 100th anniversary of freefall on April 28 and is encouraging skydivers to submit photos of themselves making 100-shaped formations in the sky, so it’s the perfect time to learn how to make one.
San Antonio, an anchor of the Texas Triangle (an area of the state containing five major cities and 70 percent of its population), attracted Texas-sized crowds for the USPA Board of Directors meeting March 2-4. The winter meeting, one of the most well-attended USPA meetings in history, contained three days of full agendas and an evening of camaraderie along the Riverwalk after Saturday’s annual USPA General Membership Meeting.
Determining world champions is not the only purpose for holding world championships. Promoting the sport, exchanging knowledge and information and strengthening friendly relationships between participating nations are equally important. The 35th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing World Championships at Dropzone Erden near Montana, Bulgaria, August 24-31 offered the chance to do all of those things.
by Steve Smith with contributions from Greg Jack and Jules McConnel
The original version of this article appeared in the July/August/September 2017 issue of Australian SkydiveR Magazine.
All skydivers—no matter what discipline they pursue—learn how to avoid canopy collisions. Yet collisions remain one of the most likely ways to die in the sport. Part of the problem is that not everybody knows how to correctly perform emergency procedures after a collision, and the procedures are not common sense. You can only learn them on the ground.
JaNette Lefkowitz starts by saying, “There’s just so much to it, so many stories leading up.”
Sebastian Alvarez, D-32538, was a pro surfer and a Chilean Air Force pilot (flying helicopters and planes alike) in his home country before he donned his first wingsuit.
Have you ever wished your school had a skydiving club? Stop wishing and get it started! Founding a college skydiving club is a unique and memorable item on a resume—it’s a great way to stand out from the crowd during school and after graduation while supporting your favorite sport. And you’ll have a ton of fun skydiving with your friends and introducing others to skydiving, guaranteed!
When some of the best skydivers in the world learned that Kids for Peace was launching the Do It for Peace campaign to inspire people worldwide to take action, they just had to be part of it! On September 27, 34 world-class skydivers with a combined total of 195,000 jumps united and accomplished a peace-sign formation at Skydive Elsinore in California.
Mark Baur, D-6108, is a USPA Lifetime Member who made his first skydive in 1978. By 1979 he had earned all four licenses and USPA issued them all—A through D—in March of that year. Over the years, Baur earned nearly all possible USPA instructional ratings: He was a Coach Examiner and AFF, Tandem and Static-Line Instructor Examiner. Although he no longer holds instructional ratings (he stopped using his last rating—AFF Instructor—at the end of 2018), he continues to mentor local instructors at his home DZ, Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wisconsin.
A good helmet once seemed like just the ticket to escape such a fate. The reality, unfortunately, is that helmets simply aren’t designed to protect people against traumatic brain injury. They can’t.
Now, following worldwide drop zone closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of skydivers all at once no longer meet the currency requirements of their licenses. The volume of jumpers who need currency training is unprecedented.
Breakoff. Greg turned 180 degrees to track from his five teammates. It was a simple 6-way with no contact. Uneventful, yes, but still glorious. Everything about skydiving was glorious. Especially when the jumps were from a C-130 Hercules at 12,500 feet … and it’s your job.
Greg was just one of hundreds of military freefall parachutists in training for the Army. On this, his 35th jump, he was tracking over the arid California desert, just a speck in the sky. Greg was a typical young parachutist with a great sense of humor who loved to joke with his fellow jumpers. But when it came to skydiving, he was quiet and deadly serious. His focus was absolute.
Although MFS teams generally put most of their training focus on the performers, the camera flyers’ performances are critical to success. The mixture of horizontal and vertical formations makes flying camera for an MFS team very challenging because there is a lot of active flying necessary to get the best camera angle.
B.J. Worth did not just influence the sport of skydiving, he defined an era. His thumbprint appears on most of the significant developments from the 1970s through the last decade, the heyday of skydiving Baby Boomers. It began with cutting-edge skydiving, which led him to undertake breathtaking stunts for major media productions and later organize exhibition jumps viewed live by millions. All this while thoughtfully and considerately governing skydiving as a board member for USPA and the International Parachuting Commission of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Worth’s contributions earned him the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2017 FAI Gold Parachuting Medal, skydiving’s highest honors.
Francis Rogallo, who had the original idea of using the “ wing” as a device to not only lower an object safely to earth but to allow man the ability to “ fly” longer between deployment and ground impact, has been working with this project since 1945.
For many college students, the winter holiday break was a time to spend with family and to eat, drink and be merry, but for 82 competitors from 11 colleges, it was also a time to compete. Whether the students had 25 jumps or were seasoned competitors, there was a place for them at this event.
The 50-staters are indeed an exclusive group, and each has a unique story peppered with meeting dozens of new people while traveling thousands of miles across the continent.
Skydivers and fighter pilots share a unique characteristic: Both can eject from their aircraft. They also share a common reason for fatal accidents: a delay in the decision to do so. In fact, according to the U.S. Air Force, it’s the single most common cause of fighter pilot fatalities. Similarly, in the past few decades, failure to cut away and pull the reserve ripcord in time has been a major factor in skydiving deaths.
There have been five skydiving fatalities in the U.S. as of May 15 of this year. Four of those involved spinning malfunctions. To raise awareness of this problem, USPA is initiating an educational campaign: Don’t Delay, Cut Away!
It was the best worst idea (or, perhaps, the worst best idea). It came, as all the best worst ideas do, over coffee.
It bubbled up one wintry Slovak afternoon as my partner, Joel Strickland, and I were taking a mid-tunnel-camp break. As I snuggled down into a beanbag chair with my thermos, I checked my phone. A dear friend—the inimitable Melissa Dawn Burns—popped up to invite us to visit her in Alaska, where she and her husband have been flying planes over the wilderness at the world’s end. I’d never been to Alaska. I’d always wanted to go.
Suddenly, a thought occurred out of the ether. I turned to Joel.
“Hey, do you want to jump in all 50 states?”
“No,” he said, without missing a beat.
A few moments went by. I kept scrolling.
And suddenly, it was real.
Jump 4 Joy’s program is called “Dream, Plan, Do.” The foundational idea behind Jump 4 Joy is that kids are really easy to inspire. They’re inspired by athletes, celebrities, actors and movies, but since they don’t necessarily know what to do with that information, it’s very quickly lost. Amonson built his program to help give them the tools to keep it going.
As chief judge at the 2019 USPA National Collegiate Skydiving Championships at Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, Kirk M. Knight chose to receive USPA’s prestigious Gold Medal for Meritorious Service—bestowed on him by unanimous acclaim of the USPA Board of Directors earlier in the year—at the banquet following the event.
October 2019 proved to be a banner month for sequential skydiving, as two separate groups of jumpers achieved world-record performances, one in full-break sequential formation skydiving and the other in canopy formation skydiving.
USPA held its 2018 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships at an unusually frigid Skydive Arizona in Eloy December 28-January 2. Skydive Arizona has hosted numerous Collegiates over the event’s 61-year history, and as usual, owners Larry and Lil Hill, Safety and Training Advisor Bryan Burke and the rest of the staff held a fantastic and successful competition despite the surprisingly chilly temperatures.
Epic Journey, the California-based life-coaching company, took to the skies above Lake Elsinore on February 13 for its fifth skydiving event since launching in August 2020.
Lew Sanborn, D-1, was holding court outside the Bird House bar, relaxing with old timers whose jump totals were in the thousands. Just a few yards away at the other end of the facility, a couple of tandem students were gearing up for the experience of a lifetime. Nobody knew whether they would become skydivers or were merely weekend seekers of a thrill ride. In between, skydivers of every age, from everywhere and from every discipline, champions and casual weekend jumpers, gathered. It was the kind of atmosphere that epitomizes our sport. It was the International Skydiving Museum’s Hall of Fame weekend at one of the iconic locations of sport parachuting: Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida
Jump for the Rose is a skydiving charity that raises funds for a beautiful facility called the Rose, a nonprofit breast cancer clinic that Dorothy Gibbons and Dr. Dixie Melillo founded in 1986. The Rose helped Marian Sparks, the founder of JFTR, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and had no insurance. Sparks paid it forward by creating a fundraiser to help uninsured women (and men) get help at the Rose.
A Parachutist Pictorial
If you are considering an RDS, you need to determine whether the use of such a system is necessary and appropriate for the activities you plan to engage in.
Whether we realize it or not, we are all trying to find balance between risk and passion. Have you ever thought about why it is you do what you do? What it is that you love about it? Well, part of it is the unique state of mind that comes over us. It feels unlike anything else we do.
The camaraderie, the spirit of competition and the drama keep jumpers returning to Nationals year after year, but it’s also more than that. The reasons people attend Nationals are as varied as the disciplines showcased at the event.
Halloween is all about chocolate, taking candy from strangers and, apparently, flying really fast parachutes at one another—at least for attendees of the debut Flock and Flow camp, held at Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina, during Halloween weekend.
The Second Annual Red Bull Fly Girls Summit at iFLY Orlando and Skydive DeLand in Florida hosted 55 of the country’s best female skydivers—professional and amateur—during the first weekend of 2019. The summit celebrated women in skydiving, a sport that men have traditionally dominated. With its event, which featured a variety of seminars, tunnel time and fun jumps, as well as a competition and an instructional rating course, Red Bull hoped to inspire more women to become skydivers and grow the sport accordingly.
On April 28, 1919, 23-year-old Leslie Irvin did something many had long thought impossible: He jumped from an airplane—intentionally untethered by a static line—freefell 1,000 feet, deployed a parachute and landed safely. And so freefall as we now know it was born.
The 8th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale European Canopy Formation Championships and 10th FAI World Cup of Canopy Formation took place from August 15-21 at the Romanian Airclub located in the southern part of the country in the town of Strejnic Ploiești.
Though our fatality numbers are at an all-time low, there is never an acceptable number of injuries or deaths. Look at it in the family context: What number of people in your family would it be OK to lose in a skydiving accident? That answer is clearly zero. However, as improbable as it may seem to get the fatality count down to zero, we have already succeeded in two of our deadliest categories: canopy collisions and high-performance landings. There were zero fatalities in these categories in 2018.
A USPA Staff Report with contributions from Team Managers Eli Godwin, Karl Meyer, ShawnaRae Miliano and L.J. Wobker
The world’s most elite skydivers representing more than 40 nations made their way to Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, for the 2018 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships of Artistic Events, Canopy Formation, Formation Skydiving and Speed Skydiving October 6-13 to vie for World Champion titles. The U.S. showed up with a healthy delegation of 12 teams and six speed competitors to compete in 10 events.
A hard-opening parachute is certainly not a new phenomenon. Skydivers have been dealing with hard openings throughout the history of sport parachuting—particularly during the early 1970s when the first ram-air main canopies and the various devices used to try and tame their openings were developed.
Breaking world records in skydiving is not easy, as anyone who has taken part in one will attest. And nearly doubling one is harder yet. Needless to say, it was no simple task when Abdulla Al Mansoori and Samir Al Ammar, management at Skydive Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, decided that the DZ would take on the challenge of hosting a jump with a 4,885.65-square-meter (52,588.70 square-foot) flag to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Flag Flown While Parachuting (set by Ralf Grabowsky of the CYPRES Demo Team in July 2017 with a 2,698-square-meter flag).
The question of how to best manage and avoid risk is at the heart of any extreme sport. For skydivers this takes many forms: “What are the highest winds I should jump in at this location?” “Should I be jumping with a group this big?”
We’re in an unforgiving sport. We’re made aware of this each time we sign a liability waiver, every time we read an incident report.
Canopy manufacturer Performance Designs would love it if every time you needed a canopy you'd buy a brand-spanking-new one. Of course, that's not always possible, and without a doubt there are some great deals on used parachutes in the marketplace. Many people choose to buy used, especially for their first or second sets of gear. If you do choose to buy used equipment, particularly a main canopy, you’ll need to do your homework.
If you’re squaring up to the requirements for your D license, there’s a good possibility that those jumps are causing a bit of nail-biting. Steve Woodford—the organizer of many funnel-free, injury-free, collision-free big-way-milestone night jumps—is here to tell you not to worry.
When I talked to Ari Perelman at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, he was having the first weather-hold day of his Arizona Airspeed career—which was, on that date, just about a year old. That’s Arizona for you.
Think about the skydivers you’ve met over the years who drifted away. Nothing happened, per se; they just ... well ... disappeared. Some of this attrition is natural. The pressures of finances, family and career come into play. But have you wondered how much attrition owes directly to repetitive stress injuries on these athletes’ minds?
Skydivers are aviators. Our bodies are low-performance aircraft. Under canopy we are slightly higher-performance aircraft. We share airspace with aviators of all kinds. So it makes sense that skydivers were well represented at AirVenture 2018 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The airshow, produced by the Experimental Aircraft Association and billed as “the world’s largest and most significant annual aviation event,” has taken place for more than 60 years. Occurring annually during the last full week in July, the show attracts more than half a million spectators each year.
USPA tasks each Safety and Training Advisor with filing an incident report when a skydiving death occurs, but S&TAs are not the only people who can file a report, and a death is not the only reason for filing one.
The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame will hold its 2017 Celebration Event at Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Illinois, the weekend of September 21-23. Now in its eighth year, the Hall of Fame recognizes and honors those who “through leadership, innovation and/or outstanding achievement have defined, promoted, inspired and advanced the sport at the highest levels.” The hall and museum strive to preserve the sport’s rich history, as well as inspire current and future skydivers to document their aerial achievements.
With the surge in popularity of wind tunnels among both skydivers and non-skydivers alike, USPA is faced with many questions regarding the sport of indoor skydiving. First and foremost, how involved should USPA be with the burgeoning sport? Is indoor skydiving actually skydiving, or is it only related to skydiving?
Should USPA remain entirely hands-off and consider it a different sport, just as it does with BASE jumping? Or should USPA completely incorporate indoor skydiving into the organization and issue memberships, licenses and records and select champions and U.S. Teams just as it would for jumpers of any other discipline? Or should we take some middle ground?
Many people know that the Wright brothers developed their flying technology in Dayton, Ohio, even though their first flight was in North Carolina. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Dayton continued as a hub of aviation innovation long after the Wright brothers’ time there. By World War I, the U.S. Army Air Service was located in the city at McCook Field, where the development of aviation technologies—including the parachute—thrived. The field, named for the McCook family (Union General Alexander McDowell McCook, his seven brothers and five cousins all fought in the American Civil War), was the home of the first military aviation research facility in 1917 and the first intentional delayed freefall skydive on April 28, 1919.
Whether a fleeting thought or a serious consideration, many skydivers have entertained the idea of owning their own drop zone.
It is all about the exit! That’s a phrase you’ll often hear in the world of competitive formation skydiving.
John LeBlanc, vice president at Performance Designs, loves “flying everything that can be flown.” He’s been doing just that for more than 40 years (since age 16, as a matter of fact), and he’s been designing parachutes for 35 of them. Over the course of those years of intense testing, LeBlanc has unsurprisingly suffered more than his share of openings that were slappers.
On the morning of July 5th, at the Elsinore Paracenter (California), Johnny Carson, Host of NBC's "Tonight Show", realized a life long ambition by making the delayed free fall parachute jump from an altitude of 12, 500 feet.
The country of Egypt has no civilian drop zones, but that doesn’t stop Skydive Egypt—a club of jumpers who are working to promote the sport in their country—from putting together spectacular boogies that feature jumps over the Great Pyramids of Giza.
So, late in the fall of 2014, you watched Alan Eustace get tugged 25 miles into the stratosphere by a balloon that for all the world looked like a big, white map pin.
Let me ask you this: When was your last aircraft emergency?
From February 10-20, Tsunami Skydivers Exotic Boogies treated 127 participants from around the world to an experience they’ll never forget: the Boogie in Belize. The event included accommodations and nightly parties on Ambergris Caye, four days of jumping on a nearby private island and four days of intentional water landings into the Great Blue Hole (a large submarine sinkhole in the Caribbean Sea near Belize City).
Different line types create confusion among skydivers of all experience levels. What are the different types of lines? What are the pros and cons of each? Which size line is best for you?
Every two years, USPA brings together drop zone owners, operators and staff for a day full of presentations and discussions on all the latest important issues for DZs. This year, USPA held its 2019 Drop Zone Operators’ Conference February 3-4 in Dallas, Texas. About 100 DZOs, speakers, Federal Aviation Administration representatives and sponsors met to share information on everything from safety to marketing to keeping young jumpers in the sport.
The Spring Fling—which started at the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales back in 2004 with only 18 participants—has grown to be the world’s largest annual gathering of canopy formation skydivers (aka canopy relative workers or CRW dogs). The 2018 Spring Fling, which returned to Lake Wales this year, attracted 112 participants from 10 countries.
If you ask Patricia Annette Thomas (whom most simply call “Pat”) about her greatest life achievement, she will unhesitatingly say it is her family, then quickly change the subject. However, if you persist, she might share some stories from the myriad wonderful moments in her life.
The U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, has represented the Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community for decades, slowly and steadily developing their craft.
Valinda Mitchell and her husband, John, are vacationing in France. These lovebirds travel a lot … a month in Ireland here, a long stint jetting around Australia there. When your childhood sweetheart and the mother of your four children says her final goodbyes to the family from a hospital bed and manages to claw her way back, such forays are understandable and maybe even necessary. Wandering hand in hand around Paris is the only way to respond, n’est-ce pas?
Remember when President Harry S. Truman announced over the family radio that there was a growing threat on the Korean Peninsula? Me neither. But U.S. Army recruit Lewis Barton Sanborn must have been paying close attention, as he was going Airborne and was about to make his first jump. On April 18, 1949, he made that jump—a static-line from 1,200 feet—over Fort Benning, Georgia. That was a long, long time ago.
We asked 16 camera flyers—those who have consistently contributed dazzling images to this magazine over the years—to send us one photo that speaks to what skydiving means to them and that would inspire our readers upon their return to the sport they love.
The club invited friends from years past, and many showed up for the weekend, including some who were part of the club in its first decade.
In 2017, almost half of the 24 jumpers who died in the U.S. faced malfunctions. Unfortunately, the failure to safely land a canopy (a quarter of the mishaps) and other causes remain, but failure to handle a main-canopy malfunction was the biggest killer in 2017. Learning from the circumstances that surround the deaths that occurred in 2017 can help us all have a safer 2018.
Hey you, reading this … can you define the term “MARD”? Do you know what it does, how it works and what distinguishes it from similar systems? If you answered no to any of these questions, you are not alone! As it turns out, jumper knowledge of MARD systems is surprisingly marginal. (Or should we say, MARDginal?)
Tom Jenkins always saw the value of structured competition and record performances in driving skydivers to become more skilled while also having fun.
For skydivers, two things keep us in the sport—our passion for human flight and the amazing friendships we build with others who share that passion.
For skydivers, two things keep us in the sport—our passion for human flight and the amazing friendships we build with others who share that passion. One way to enjoy both is to be involved in large-formation skydiving events.
Every time you jump and pack, your gear collects dirt and grime. Between repack cycles, it is important that you are performing your own inspections after every jump and performing regular maintenance.
Operation Enduring Warrior Helps Combat-Wounded Veterans Take Flight
Skydiving Makes a Difference: A Parachutist series on nonprofit organizations that give back to their communities
Voting is now open for the special election to fill a National Director vacancy on the USPA Board of Directors.
Following USPA elections last fall, the USPA Board of Directors gathered for the first meeting of its three-year term February 1-3 in Dallas, Texas. The new board welcomed six new members, two of whom had previously been on the board and returned after a hiatus.
So, you’ve been jumping for a few years and you’ve decided it’s time to work on earning a tandem instructor rating.
Nick Barson doesn’t just say he loves animals. He proves it. In fact, more than 700 animals owe their lives to Barson and his nonprofit rescue operation charmingly named “Paws Landing.” Barson’s plan is to keep that number growing.
In 2019, USPA saw a five-fold increase in reporting from the previous year, receiving more reports for the year than in any year in the past two decades.
Each year, Safety Day is the second Saturday in March (this year, that’s March 14). It marks the beginning of a new season, and even in poor weather, jumpers flock to this event, their minds filled with fresh ideas and expectations of the warm summer days ahead.
When it happened, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal operator, had already been serving his country for a dozen years. Those years had been good, full, strong years. On the day in question, the mission at hand was most certainly not Stacy’s first. All the way back in 2010, the USO presented its Service Member of the Year award to CPO Stacy for his key role in more than 50 combat missions while he’d been deployed to Afghanistan. Over the course of that decade-plus, Stacy had destroyed improvised bombs, trained both Afghan forces and U.S. Special Forces members on delicate clearing techniques and helped ensure the zero-casualty rate in the province where he was doing the good work.
The record series kicked off on April 20. First up was the three-day JOS world record event. Thirty-two skydivers in their 70s from Canada, Germany, Sweden and the U.S. participated.
February 10, 1997: Former presi- dent of the United States George Herbert Walker Bush stepped on to the raised platform in front of 800 skydivers at the Parachute Industry Association’s biennial International Symposium in Houston, Texas, and strapped on a 1943-vintage Switlik parachute.
Have you ever had a dream come true? I have! Read on and I'll tell you how we came about getting our first eight-man star.
Every two years, skydiving gear manufacturers, riggers, drop zone operators and everyday skydivers gather somewhere in the United States for the Parachute Industry Association Symposium. The event includes something for everyone: seminars on a variety of topics by industry leaders, continuing education for riggers and a huge trade show where vendors show off their latest and greatest products.
One night, as you’re reading a bedtime story to your young parachute, it will inevitably want to know the answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” A responsible parachute owner had better be ready with the answers.
On September 27, USPA Director of Competition Steve Hubbard called Greg Windmiller, D-20004, to the podium during the awards ceremony at the USPA National Championships of Canopy Piloting to receive a gold medal. It was not Windmiller’s first gold. In fact, it wasn’t even his first gold that day, as he had just won the canopy piloting speed event with a perfect-300 score.
Around the world, October is the month dedicated to breast-cancer awareness. For many years, the skydiving community marked this month with Jump for the Cause, an event that brought women together to raise money for breast cancer research and set women’s world record formation skydives.
The USPA Board of Directors held its third meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Phoenix, Arizona, January 31-February 2. The board welcomed newly seated Central Regional Director Charles Crinklaw and elected Al King to fill the vacant national director seat.
Most jumpers have a difficult time remembering the cloud clearance regulations, but understanding the reasons for the different altitude requirements can help you remember the necessary information.
At its 2018 summer meeting, the USPA Board of Directors chose Mike Horan, D-881, to receive its prestigious Gold Medal for Meritorious Service.
Canopy collisions are a fairly common cause of skydiving fatalities. The sport has seen improvement in recent years because drop zones have become more diligent about separating high-performance and standard landings and have also spent more effort educating jumpers on the importance of proper landing patterns, exit separation and separation during deployment.
The USPA Board of Directors chose Bryan Burke, D-8866, to receive its prestigious Gold Medal for Meritorious Service. Every year, USPA presents a select few recipients with this award, which honors “outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community.”
The 2019 USPA National Collegiate Skydiving Championships, held December 26-January 1 at the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, was bittersweet, as longtime DZ manager and valued member of the skydiving community Betty Hill lost her 20-year battle with cancer shortly before the event.
Visualization is the ability to create clear, detailed and accurate images in your mind of something that you want to reproduce as physical reality. In essence, quality visualization is much like a very well-trained imagination.
As a skydiver, you probably take the advice of doctors on health questions involving skydiving with a few grains of salt, right? I mean, if it’s important enough that you’re actually going to bother asking somebody outside of the internet, your fate seems predestined.
Competing in 4-way formation skydiving can be a lot of fun and also very challenging. It’s the kind of sport you can enjoy casually on the weekend or devote your life to (like the members of SDC Rhythm XP do)! If you’re thinking of participating, you’ll first need to learn a little about the formations and the five positions on the team.
On a beautiful, cloudless Saturday afternoon last April, Team Fastrax, a professional exhibition team based at Start Skydiving in Middletown, Ohio, boarded their Caravan to make a demo like no other before.
So, you’d like to form a skydiving team and you’ve found other skydivers to join you. Congratulations! Now what? The good news is that the greatest hurdle is behind you. The next step is to come up with a team budget.
Many top world-class competitors had a difficult time at the 14th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Cup of Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing in Cordoba, Argentina, May 18-26, and the members of the U.S. Accuracy Team were no exception.
“Modern equipment, technology and training have made skydiving so much safer than ever before.”
On March 10, skydivers across the U.S. and around the world made their way to one of the hundreds of drop zones that hosted a Safety Day event. Now in its 22nd year, Safety Day continues to be a favorite event that draws jumpers both new and old to the drop zone for a day geared toward making everyone smarter and safer. Whether attendees listened to presentations about managing canopy traffic and avoiding collisions, practiced emergency procedures (in a hanging harness using traditional methods or the virtual reality videos newly available on USPA’s website) or learned how a main-assisted-reserve- deployment (MARD) device works to extract a reserve, those who attended Safety Day thoroughly enjoyed it.
To open Safety Day 2019 at Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown, New Jersey, DZO and pilot Pico Mazure remarked, “Safety is no accident. Safety is an attitude and a core value of our community. We are happy to see not only students but also highly experienced jumpers attend Safety Day and help us instill that value in all generations of jumpers.”To open Safety Day 2019 at Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown, New Jersey, DZO and pilot Pico Mazure remarked, “Safety is no accident. Safety is an attitude and a core value of our community. We are happy to see not only students but also highly experienced jumpers attend Safety Day and help us instill that value in all generations of jumpers.”
The French government arranged a series of tributes to the heroes of Normandy that attracted more than one million people from across the globe for ceremonies, speeches and commemorative airborne operations.
Each year, roughly 55,000 Oahu locals and tourists visit Dillingham Airfield to skydive, glide and fly.
On September 10, 1995, 10 skydivers, a pilot and one person on the ground died when a jump plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the West Point Airport (now called the Middle Peninsula Regional Airport) in West Point, Virginia.
The Spring Fling at Skydive Sebastian in Florida, traditionally held each year in early March, is a big deal for both experienced and aspiring canopy formation skydivers from around the world.
May 24-27, 88 elite formation skydivers from more than a dozen countries and a team of five in-air videographers (Niklas Daniel, George Katsoulis, John Lyman, Jim Stengell and David Wybenga) came together at Skydive Arizona in Eloy to participate in the 23rd annual Arizona Challenge and celebrate the 25th anniversary of world-renowned formation skydiving team Arizona Airspeed.
It was June 2011, and USPA excitedly announced its newest program. We had named it Sisters in Skydiving. We had no idea how the skydiving community would receive the program or whether it would succeed. But we knew one thing: We needed to do something to encourage more woman to take up and stick with the sport.
The country of Egypt currently has no civilian drop zones, but that didn’t stop Alia Parachuting and Air Sports Federation—an organization that helps facilitate sport-skydiving activities in the country and abroad—from putting together an amazing boogie over the pyramids of Giza December 9-11.
On December 26, 1959, Dr. John Gaffney (“Doc” to his skydiver friends) led the Central Florida Sky Divers Club to the DeLand Municipal Airport to jump from a Tri-Pacer flown by the airport manager, Bob Lee.
Over the past six months, COVID-19 restrictions have paused the active and busy lives we lead. This, of course, has extended to skydiving.
For the past several years, the U.S. Naval Academy Parachute Team has been in a building phase, and 2019 was a banner year.
Near sunset on June 21, a Beechcraft King Air crashed shortly after takeoff from Dillingham Airfield near Waialua, Hawaii, killing all 11 aboard, including pilot Jerome Renck.
When Leslie Irvin made the first freefall jump using gear designed for that purpose more than 100 years ago, no one really foresaw parachuting becoming a sport.
Thankfully, no skydivers or jump pilots died in skydiving-related aircraft accidents in the U.S. during 2017. But there is room for improvement with regard to decision making by jump pilots.
Tragedy struck the skydiving community in 2018 when a Cessna 182 crashed shortly after takeoff, killing the pilot and three skydivers and leaving the lone survivor with serious injuries. According to the National Transportation Safety Board Preliminary Report: “A witness that was in a park outside the airport watched as the airplane climbed after takeoff on the accident flight. The witness said that the airplane was about 150 feet over the runway when the engine stopped. They watched as the wings of the airplane rocked left and right before the airplane pitched down and collided with the ground.”
Piloting a jump plane is among the most demanding of flying jobs, with multiple takeoffs and landings in a variety of conditions and with a variety of loads, as well as the need to refuel often throughout a day.
Skydivers have a special ability the general public just doesn’t have. Unfortunately, that special ability can be used in devious ways...
On Sunday, October 27, five parachutists safely landed at 20,200 feet MSL (with a density altitude of 22,700 feet MSL) on the West Col in the Nepali Himalayas.
More than 150 jumpers from 17 countries and six continents traveled to Skydive Sebastian in Florida for the Spring Fling canopy formation skydiving (aka canopy relative work or CRW) event March 9-17. The nine-day event—now in its 15th year—has continued to grow. Organizers Chris Bohn, Chris Gay, Eric Gallan, Francois Huot and Brian Pangburn kept up with the surge in participation by adding Andrew Draminski, Gerben Frankvoort, Sean Jones and Scott Lazarus to the organizing team. The team’s goal was to keep everyone challenged, from the 12 jumpers who had never tried CF before to the most experienced participants.
Think of what might go through the mind of a racehorse in the starting gate: “I’m here to race. I was born to race. I live to race.” Compare that to the thoughts that fi ll the minds of a talented team of experienced skydivers at a world record event ... when they are stuck on the ground due to weather. Perhaps thoughts like: “I’m here to jump. Let me jump. I’m dying to jump.”
In an effort to encourage technological innovation that advances skydiving, USPA and Sigma, a global platform for verified identity, co-hosted the Skydiving Technology Advancement Roundup (STAR) competition. Following a six-month online submission period, nine finalists exhibited their innovations during the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Dallas, Texas, February 4-7. From those nine, three winners walked away with cash, while all the finalists, as well as the audience, walked away with the excitement that comes from seeing dreams put into action. But it’s the average skydiver who is the ultimate winner.
Skydiving in winter can be a beautiful experience. Flying your canopy through the crisp air over snow-covered fields is an activity you definitely should try and may find you enjoy. It can be challenging—and even potentially dangerous—but it’s a very rewarding and safe experience if you prepare for it properly.
Safety Day—traditionally held on the second Saturday in March—represents the beginning of a new season of skydiving. Whether you're from a northern drop zone that shuts down for the winter or you’re a fair-weather jumper from the south, you’ll soon catch yourself staring out the window listening to the birds sing, watching the trees bud and daydreaming of the jumping days ahead. If you’re like many jumpers across the country, you’ll start pulling out gear that has sat unused for months. Now is the time to check your data cards, dust off the electronics and charge the batteries. The 2019 season will soon be here.
This annual summary looks at each 2019 fatality and places it in an appropriate category.
Sunny with a Chance of Beach Landings—The 2019 Costa Rica Boogie
Hosted By: Tsunami Skydivers Exotic Boogies
Tambor Bay, Costa Rica | February 9-18
A Parachutist Pictorial
Amy Benton and Chazi Blacksher of The Working Girls event organizing team, along with a team of heroic volunteers, created the wonderful superhero-themed Super SIS Weekend at Skydive Arizona in Eloy January 24-26.
Skysurfing has experienced a comeback in recent years, and fortunately, the drop zones of the world are helping to keep our skies safe by not blindly allowing just anyone to grab a board and attempt it. Most DZs insist that new skysurfers receive proper guidance from those with experience … and for good reason.
For the first time in the U.S., a swooping competition came to the heart of a major city, giving the non-jumping general public a front-row seat to the dynamic, high-speed, spectator-friendly sport of canopy piloting. The Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championships came to the waterfront in downtown San Diego September 14-15, and the action lived up to the hype.
Risk mitigation and the decision-making process surrounding risk mitigation is an important part of the foundation of safety.
It is just before 7 a.m. at Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida. Sergeant Kyle Pratt, smartly dressed in a black flight suit with the words “U.S. Army Parachute Team” embroidered in gold on his back, glances up at the C31A Fokker aircraft positioned 25 meters in front of him.
Being a new jumper can be overwhelming. You graduate from AFF and are constantly learning new information about disciplines, the flow of the drop zone, landing rules and more. On top of that, you have a big choice to make: What canopy should you buy? To be fair, this will continue to be a significant question all the way throughout your skydiving career.
USPA held its 2018 National Parachuting Championships at sunny Skydive Sebastian in Florida September 19-28. This was the first USPA Nationals for DZO Amanda Smalley and staff, and they did a spectacular job handling all of the expected (and unexpected) issues that arose.
Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Illinois, hosted the 2018 USPA National Skydiving Championships September 4-18. This was the first time the mid-sized Midwestern drop zone hosted a national championships and despite a few unexpected challenges, DZO Doug Smith, Director of Marketing Becky Johns and the rest of the CSC staff rose to the occasion to ensure a successful event.
When a competitive skydiver earns a U.S. Parachute Team patch and the opportunity to represent their country at a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world skydiving event, they are bound to have an amazing experience.
In the Olomouc region of the Czech Republic lays Prostějov, a city of more than 44,000 people that dates back to the 12th century. Home to the 601st Special Forces Group of the Czech Armed Forces, the airport in Prostějov has a history in parachuting going back to 1960. The drop zone Jump-Tandem, owned by Martin Dlouhý, a professional skydiver of more than 33 years, has been host to multiple world events, including two Vector Festivals, the CYPRES 25th Anniversary Boogie, three European Championships, two Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale World Cups and now two FAI World Championships.
The 75-Way Skydivers Over Sixty World Record for Largest Formation Skydive
Organizers: T.J. Hine, Roger Ponce de Leon, Rick Poplinger
Andy Anderson, Michael Anderson, Pat Arthur, Art Barchie, David Benjamin, Betty Bennett, John Benoit, Stewart Brookes, Scott Buethe, Monique Careau, George Conwill, James Crandall, Carl Daugherty, Carlo De Martino, Kim Dobson, Jim Doyle, Valerie Estabrook, Chuck Finley, Nels Forsman, Bill Fridberg, Glenn Giamatti, Gary Greer, William Grimm, Tiiu Haamer, John Hardy, Michael Hare, Dee Hawley, Michael Hawley, Tom Hayes, T.J. Hine, Robert Johns, Ronald Johnson, John Kallend, Peter Kazmierczak, Kevin Keenan, Peter Kramer, James Krogh, Francois Leblanc, Jerry Lehnherr, Richard Luczak, Marshall Madden, William McMurry, Jeff McVey, Raymond Medley, John Mignanelli, Douglas Mullinax, George Nisson, Darrell Ogi, Richard Parrish, Dan Pillasch, Roger Ponce de Leon, Rick Poplinger, Cynthia Raible, Mike Raible, David Robinson, Mike Robinson, Dan Rosenthal, Jeff Saxton, Hank Schraeder, Craig Seasly, Jonathan Smith, Hank Stapel, Larry Stein, Larry Thomas, Mark Thompson, Steve Van Buren, Butch Van Lewis, Kevin Vetter, Ron Wands, Tracy Warrington, Harold White, Casey Wiggins, Paul Wold, Josh Wolfe, Peter Zimmerli
Camera Flyers: Brian Festi and Norman Kent
First things first: There’s a lot of debate surrounding this topic. Global climate change remains a charged topic, season after season … especially since those seasons seem to be, well, changing.
Have you ever thought about how parachute designers take an interesting idea and turn it into a real-live piece of nylon? As you might imagine, the story of a canopy is never as simple as scratching down some math and heading over to a cutting table. Since the first parachute designer put his idea to paper, the process has been as much about the people manning the pencils as it has been about the parachute that’s born of the process. And in the last scant handful of years, the story has taken on another plotline entirely.
We live in the age of GPS spots, turbine aircraft and high-performance ram-air main and reserve parachutes that have lots of forward speed. So, we’re finished landing off the drop zone, right? Unfortunately, not! Murphy’s law—the foundational rule of skydiving—says, “If it can go wrong, it will.”
Maybe you are on a big-way dive or in a tracking contest or really finding out what your wingsuit can do. Maybe the weather is tricky or your exit delayed. No matter the situation, when you open your canopy and find the drop zone is w-a-a-a-y farther away than you wanted, your plan went wrong. So, how can you avoid this situation? And what can you do when it inevitably does come up?
In mid-November, some of the world’s best wingsuit flyers and canopy pilots joined an equally talented group of canopy formation skydivers to stretch their limits at Project Blacklist 2, a four-day invitational event at Skydive Sebastian in Florida. Made possible by the evolution of multiple skydiving disciplines in the past decade, Blacklist gives jumpers a chance to fly together and explore their diverse skill sets in spectacular fashion.
Since the development of the sport in the last decade is largely the stuff of YouTube videos, let’s talk about what’s next. Where’s wingsuiting going in the future?
On St. Valentine’s Day weekend, February 14-17, many of our sport’s founding members and innovators reconnected with lifelong friends in Felicity, California—the Official Center of the World (as declared by France’s Institut Géographique National in 1985)—during the Pioneers of Sport Parachuting Reunion. The event also included a celebration of USPA President Emeritus Jacques-André Istel’s 90th birthday (or, as Istel referred to it, his “100th birthday rehearsal”).
As it planned for the 24th annual Safety Day, scheduled for March 14, USPA chose “Normalizing Excellence” as its theme. However, nothing was normal any longer when Safety Day rolled around and the coronavirus was relentlessly spreading across the globe.
From June 25-28, after months of quarantine and little to no jumping worldwide, the participants of the P3 (Perris Performance Plus) Power Play appreciated these things more than ever and promised never to take them for granted again.
Currently with more than 18,000 jumps and 300 hours of freefall time, Carolyn “the Queen” Clay, D-3347, from Williamsburg, Virginia, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down after 47 years of continual skydiving.
There is probably no other piece of skydiving equipment more misunderstood than the reserve static line (RSL). If you want 10 different opinions on why you should or should not equip your container with one, simply ask 10 different skydivers.
Would you jump into a mountain forest for $1,052,000? In the dark? In the rain? In November?
In 1971, one man did. Unfortunately, the cash was stolen and the aircraft was hijacked Boeing 727 with fighter jets and FBI agents in a helicopter following it.
Was he an experienced skydiver or an ordinary criminal attempting an extraordinary theft? Did he survive and escape, or perish in a forest in Washington State? Thirty-nine years later, no one knows for sure.
For whatever reason, hundreds of people are convinced they know who D.B. Cooper was—or themselves admitted to being the most recognized hijacker in the world. Maybe it’s the extraordinary circumstantial evidence. Maybe it’s the desperate need for an answer. Maybe it’s a secret wish to make a difference in the world. But sometimes, no matter how hard we wish, no matter how hard we believe, we just can’t make something true. Today, the FBI has DNA from Cooper’s J.C. Penney clip-on tie that he left on the jet and partial fingerprints from the cocktail glasses he drank from while in flight. They can now quickly confirm or eliminate suspects.
A single man, an immense amount of cash, four parachutes and a jump from an airliner. Where does the largest manhunt in the United States lead when authorities don’t have a clue as to who the suspect might be?
On Saturday, August 15, more than 40 military veterans around the country took to the air on tandem skydives during the 6th Annual Freedom Freefall event.
The 2018 USPA Board of Directors summer meeting—the sixth and final meeting of the 2016-2018 board before the fall elections—took place July 13-15. For the board’s first visit to Milwaukee, Skydive Midwest in nearby Sturtevant, Wisconsin, welcomed board members and staff to the drop zone the Thursday before the meeting, and everyone enjoyed the cool, northern temperatures and blue skies before heading into three days of meetings. Compared to recent meetings, agendas were light, allowing the board to explore each topic fully.
The USPA Board of Directors held its second meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Arlington, Virginia, July 12-14.
Mention the “Golden Knights” of the U. S. Army Parachute Team to the average reader of PARACHUTIST and the odds are that he will think of the formidable competitors he has jumped against or heard about in parachute meets across the country.
Thailand is magical. It deserves to be referred to as the “Land of Smiles.” Anyone who has been there will tell you it’s unforgettable. The air is warm and damp. Transitioning to the outdoors from an air-conditioned space feels like a warm embrace.
Hey, skydiver: What’s your mental image of hypoxia? Do you immediately picture a plane full of sport jumpers laughing like drunks and falling all over each other? If so, you’re not alone, and there’s also a good chance that you think a) you’ve never been hypoxic; b) hypoxia is just something that happens on high-altitude jumps when the oxygen system is on the fritz; and c) you know what to look for.
The thing is: You’re not actually right about any of that.
The five members of professional skydiving team ToraTora—Jarno Cordia, Willem de Groot, Rene Terstegen, Martijn Van Dam and Jasper van der Meer—put together a magical week of skydiving and other adventure sports in Slovenia’s Soca Valley, adjacent to Triglav National Park.
85 competitors from 27 nations test their skills at the Federation Aeronautique Internationale 7th Canopy Piloting World Championships and 1st Freestyle Canopy Piloting World Championships.
Rob Laidlaw, D-32405, has an extensive skydiving resume, and his name is synonymous with innovation in skydiving training and advanced coaching. He began skydiving in 1973 at the age of 19 in Manitoba, Canada, and since then has made more than 18,600 jumps.
Whether it is a visit to a nearby drop zone during a weekend of normal jump operations or a long trip to a boogie or other special event, it is fun and exciting to head out for new adventures. But it can also be intimidating, especially if you are new to the sport and leaving the nest for the first time. A little planning and preparation will go a long way toward making your experience fun and painless.
Don't let a lack of knowledge or skill keep you from the sport that you love—there are many ways to improve your confidence and safety under canopy.
The 2019 USPA Parachuting and Skydiving Nationals determined which teams and individuals will represent the U.S. in every discipline at the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships Mondial (all-events competition) in Tanay, Siberia, in 2020.
During the first week of October, you could hear a variety of languages anywhere on the drop zone: Chinese in the boarding area, French on the packing mats in the hangar, Norwegian around the pool, German at the mock-up and Russian at the manifest window.
Remember the days when it seemed like all everyone wanted to do was learn to fly head down so they could join the cool kids on jumps? Well, the cool kids have flipped it right side up and stepped it up a notch. Head-up angle jumps and sit-flying formations seem to be spreading like dust devils in the Arizona summer. And big-way head-up jumps are becoming more popular than ever.
In the film “Crosswind” by Patrick Passe, Omar Alhegelan is mind-blowing as he elegantly whizzes around the sky on his feet. (If you consider yourself a freeflyer but have never seen “Crosswind,” put down this magazine for an hour and go online to do your homework.) When the film came out in 2001, you could count on one hand the number of people who could pull off something like that, but today it’s common to see feet-first angle jumps at most events.
An international group of skydivers broke the Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Head-Up Formation Skydive by flying an 84-way during the Upright World Record Attempts at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, July 22-26.
Skydiving has had many great moments, but none surpass the first skydive by President George H.W. Bush. Now it is with great sadness that the skydiving community bids farewell to one of its own. President Bush was 94 years old.
On April 19, 132 members of the Parachutists Over Phorty Society (and subgroups Skydivers Over Sixty, Jumpers Over Seventy and Jumpers Over Eighty) made the trek to the rural drop zone for the 14th POPS World Meet, temporarily increasing the town’s population by 11 percent.
I stood at the deep end of the indoor heated pool while wearing a jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and a training harness connected to a 300-square-foot main canopy and jumped into the water.
Instructor, coach and champion Christy Frikken hardly needs an introduction. If you’ve been in the sport over the past 16 years—or watched formation skydiving podiums since 2007—you’ve certainly seen her. Unfortunately, dozens of major wins and one of the most highly respected names in 4-way coaching apparently only gets you so far.
In the fabric of stories that makes up the history of skydiving, there’s one notable place where the material dwindles into a frayed edge: the part that weaves in skydivers of color. If you’re not so sure about that, I’ll just put it this way: Google “the history of African-American skydiving.” The first hit is for Team Blackstar.
The name of this year’s giant boogie at Skydive Orange in Virginia—the Apocalyptic Big O Boogie—could not have been more fitting.
Afternoon rains, gusty winds and low clouds greeted the competitors who arrived at Skydive Pretoria in South Africa in the weeks before the 10th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Cup of Canopy Piloting.
Many members wonder what USPA does exactly, not only as an organization, but also for its members. Well, since USPA turns 75 this month, what better time to share how the organization works and where it’s headed from here?
Robert Crandall, the longtime CEO of American Airlines, once said the industry is always in the grip of its dumbest competitor. A corollary for general aviation—if there is one—is that the perception of safety is always set by the latest horrific accident.
Skydiving Makes a Difference—A Parachutist series on nonprofit organizations that give back to their communities.
In April of 1968, two months before actual filming of "MOTHS" began, a group of Southern Califorania jumpers were assembled at Elsinore, California to make several hundred rehearsal and equipment testing jumps.
Wingsuits add massive amounts of potential to skydives. A wingsuit flyer is able to fly farther and at much higher horizontal speeds than is possible on any other type of jump.
It sounds like a lot when you don’t yet have them. But in reality, 200 skydives is not that many. And in some cases, it’s not enough to prepare the jumper for the added complexity of flying a wingsuit, which adds risk and reduces comfort during almost every phase of a jump from exiting the plane to deploying the parachute.
The subject of wingsuit exits—specifically, in what order wingsuit flyers should exit and how to conduct the exits—seems to cause a lot of confusion and worry among wingsuit flyers themselves, as well as other jumpers at the DZ. Much of this confusion and worry can be resolved by simply doing a little pre-planning before boarding the aircraft.
Wingsuit flying is complicated and requires a significant amount of training, education, practice and dedication. It isn’t something you can just do a little here and there and still do it well. It deserves respect and your full attention. Your life is on the line, along with the lives of others. A wingsuit skydive presents many opportunities to make fatal errors. And don’t kid yourself about the risks to others: If you mess up in this sport, you can kill someone. It has happened before.
After exiting properly for your wingsuit skydive (covered in “Wingsuit Progression—Part Two: Exits,” July Parachutist), you still have the rest of your jump ahead of you. All skydives require planning and careful execution, but wingsuit skydives require just a little extra.
Winter comes for all of us, whether you’re of the Great House of Chicagoland or the Great House of Perris. While the season’s arrival clearly hits the Lords of the North hardest, every skydiver in the 50 Kingdoms needs to maintain at least some awareness of cold-season strategy.
Over the years, Austin’s unique mix of hard-charging and grounded doesn’t just make its mark on the marketing side of the skydiving industry.
It started when Weter, who enjoys painting animals, visualized a zebra losing its stripes in freefall.
On October 23, Advanced Aerospace Designs issued reminders of approaching deadlines for compliance with its last two service bulletins.
PIA released Service Bulletin PSB-10092020 affecting after-market tandem main risers constructed with obsolete RW2 rings. All sport tandem main risers produced with RW2 rings, or equivalent sized rings, are affected regardless of the hardware manufacturer, the date of manufacture, the material type or the forging process used. This PSB does not affect "solo" main risers that use RW2 rings. Compliance is MANDATORY – REPLACE BEFORE THE NEXT JUMP.
The FAA is adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Uninsured United Parachute Technologies, LLC (UPT) parachutes. This AD results from reserve pin covers (RPCs) catching on the parachute container flaps and preventing the reserve parachute from deploying. This AD requires modifying the RPC before the next parachute jump and replacing the RPC at the next reserve parachute packing. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.
It’s no secret that more and more people are turning to giving gifts of experiences instead of material things.
Strong Enterprises issued Service Bulletin #35 mandating inspection of the 3-ring attachment on tandem drogues manufactured between June 22, 2020, and February 2, 2021 whose last three digits of the serial numbers between 625 and 714. Status is MANDATORY. Compliance is IMMEDIATE – before the next jump.
USPA 5401 Southpoint Centre Blvd., Fredericksburg, VA, 22407 (540) 604-9740 M-F 9am-5pm Eastern (540) 604-9741 firstname.lastname@example.org