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Reflecting on the association’s past year is like digging through your gear bag after a long, hectic skydiving season. The things you expect to see are there, interspersed with surprising items that somehow got thrown in. For USPA, 2016 was just that mixed bag. Let me inventory those items for you.
The 2018 USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships wrapped up Wednesday, January 2, at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. The competition, the longest-running skydiving competition in the U.S., drew 73 college skydivers from 13 schools across the U.S.
Since 1961 USPA has compiled every skydiving fatality in the U.S., except skydives conducted under military orders. Thirteen skydiving fatalities were recorded in the U.S. in 2018. That’s a historic low.
The 2019 USPA National Canopy Piloting Championships at Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina, this September will now include a freestyle test event. The three-jump event is scheduled for September 10, with official registration on September 9.
At the USPA Board of Directors’ summer meeting July 12-14 in Arlington, Virginia, the Safety & Training Committee discussed several issues.
The USPA Board of Directors, with guidance from seasoned mixed formation skydiving competitors, approved changes to the MFS event for the 2019 National Skydiving Championships. Based on competitor feedback from the 2018 Nationals, changes were made to allow for closer synergy between the advanced and open classes, as well as to continue to increase national (and hopefully one day international) participation with the addition of an entry-level intermediate class. MFS is one of the fastest-growing disciplines in skydiving and strives to provide a multi-orientation playing field for all levels of freeflyers.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by David Wybenga. Information about AXIS' coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
As of August 2, 2018, 39 members will appear on the ballot in the upcoming election for USPA’s Board of Directors. All 22 seats on the board are up for grabs, with 18 members vying for the eight National Director slots and 21 members running as Regional Director candidates.
Follow all the scores at OmniSkore.com, and check out USPA’s Facebook page for photos throughout the event, which continues until September 18.
This month's "Gearing Up" is written for just 22 of you. If 2017 is an average year in the U.S. accident-wise, some 22 of you won't be around to read this column in next February's Parachutist due to a skydiving accident. Let that sink in: 22 of you reading this will die making your last skydive. Odds are you're licensed (most likely a C or D license), have been skydiving for at least 10 years and have just at or over 1,000 jumps. (Don't think you're off the hook if you're not nearly that experienced, since these are averages; less-experienced skydivers will be among them.) Statistics also tell us that the circumstances of your demise will likely involve a hard landing, a mishandled main-parachute malfunction or a collision.
As of October 3, 2019, six USPA members will appear on the ballot in the upcoming special election to fill the remainder of the Central Regional Director’s term on the USPA Board of Directors.
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.
Here's a jump story. Or rather, a story about a jump that didn't happen. But first, do you believe that things happen for a reason? Or alternatively, do you believe that a bad outcome can later be viewed as a good outcome?
USPA remains committed to serving our membership during this growing pandemic.
We all owe deep appreciation and grateful thanks to our current ranks of instructors and coaches for their diligence and professionalism.
Advanced Aerospace Designs has released Public Service Bulletin PSB-02-2018 which requires all Vigil 2 automatic activation devices with serial numbers from 16,000 to 21,999 to be inspected by the manufacturer.
This proposal would pull ATC out of the FAA and move it to the U.S. Department of Transportation, where a new Management Advisory Council, populated with airline interests, would serve as the ATC board of directors.
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.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by David Cherry. Information about AXIS' coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
The action calls worked and it now appears that the needed FAA funding bill will pass without changes to the structure of air traffic control. “Once again, we thank our members who made the calls in defense of skydiving’s airspace needs,” said USPA Executive Director Ed Scott.
Photo by Michael Tomaselli | D-18530
Mike Lewis pilots a canopy formation during the Freeze Your Buns Off Boogie at Skydive Lake Wales in Florida.
Photo by Raymond Adams | D-30158
Jumpers exit during the Sebastian Vertical Elite Camp at Skydive Sebastian in Florida.
Photo by Laszlo Andacs | D-22468
Clancy Ewald, camera pool photographer at the USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships at Skydive Lake Wales, flies to the landing area after a round of competition.
Chances are, you know very little about your reserve canopy (after all, it’s packed away out of view most of the time), but you should. It’s an important piece of equipment, and although you hope to never use it, you probably will at some point. (Photo by David Cherry.)
In future years we will all look back proudly on this time as one where we joined together and successfully preserved the future of this sport we love.
The Federal Aviation Administration operates the largest and safest aviation system in the world. How large? Of the 32.9 million air carrier departures worldwide in 2015, the U.S. had the most with 8.7 million. China was a distant second. Of an estimated 370,000 general-aviation aircraft worldwide flying an estimated 35 million flight hours, more than half those aircraft and hours are flown in the U.S.
USPA’s board of directors is holding its next meeting September 18-20 in Nashville, Tennessee, and we are excited to announce that it will now be broadcast Webinar style via Zoom.
Sam Alexander captures a moment of flashing sun, refreshing sky, and the comradeship of accomplishment high above the Taft, California, DZ.
By Gary Patmor | D-720
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.
From the first jump, all skydivers know the value of being prepared. We train, retrain, review the Skydiver’s Information Manual, practice in a hanging harness, perform gear checks before every jump, read incident reports to educate ourselves, seek out experts and take myriad other steps to be as prepared as possible for any skydiving eventuality. Doesn’t it make sense that we should also prepare for other eventualities, even bad skydiving outcomes?
On April 15, USPA and other general aviation groups won a reprieve for aviation businesses, including two drop zones, at Dillingham Airfield in Waialua, Hawaii.
This is an election year for USPA, meaning that each of the 22 seats on USPA’s board of directors is up for grabs by any USPA member who is qualified to run.
The USPA Board of Directors is in need of a new National Director to fill the vacancy when Shanon Searls joins the USPA staff as the new Director of Sport Promotion on December 17.
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.”
The results are in for the special election to fill the vacancy for the Pacific Regional Director seat on the USPA Board of Directors.
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.
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.
Many canopy-related accidents are rooted in a lack of basic skill and knowledge regarding canopy flight. The USPA Board of Directors has taken a step toward reducing canopy-related injuries and fatalities by mandating new requirements for the USPA B license.
While her skydiving accomplishments were incredible, it was her humanity and her love of friends and family that made her such an icon in the skydiving world.
A celebration of life for Larry K. Bagley has been scheduled for June 1 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Gary Peek, D-8884, who had served on USPA’s board of directors for 23 years, was found dead in his home in St. Charles, Missouri on August 13. A full recap of his USPA service will appear in the October Parachutist.
Results are in for the special election to fill the vacancy for the Central Region seat on the USPA Board of Directors.
JaNette Lefkowitz starts by saying, “There’s just so much to it, so many stories leading up.”
The choices you make when purchasing skydiving gear can literally mean the difference between life and death. The data on the causes of skydiving injuries and fatalities makes it pretty clear that nothing is more important when it comes to gear than the size and type of main canopy you choose to fly and the decisions you make while flying it.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Niklas Daniel. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
At its summer meeting, the USPA Board of Directors made a number of changes to the Skydiver’s Competition Manual and the Competition Committee discussed multiple topics that resulted in no action.
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.
Cornelia Mihai, D-31070, is a focused and hard-working skydiver who at the 2014 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Championships became the first female to medal in a canopy piloting event. Originally from Romania, Mihai is now a member of the Skydive Dubai Canopy Piloting Team and is regularly atop the podium representing the United Arab Emirates in international canopy piloting competitions. She is also a tandem and AFF instructor.
Craig O’Brien, D-19294, is a world champion skydiver, world-class freefall photographer and Hollywood stuntman and camera flyer. In the late 1990s, O’Brien and his then-soon-to-be wife, Tanya, formed the skysurfing team Firestarter. With Tanya on the skyboard and Craig flying camera, they were virtually unbeatable in national and world competitions. Later, O’Brien began working in Hollywood. His credits include filming and doing stunt work on “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Iron Man 3,” “Godzilla,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Bucket List” and many other movies, as well as commercials, documentaries and other productions.
USPA takes every opportunity to support military skydivers as they serve our country and as they face struggles while entering civilian life after service. Our military counterparts in airborne operations train endlessly, and during their service, many of the paratroopers work with military instructors who are also USPA Instructors to earn there USPA A licenses. However, their training is subject to the conditions and equipment available at the time the training takes place.
Longtime parachute rigging instructor and skydiver Dave DeWolf, D-1046, passed away late in the evening of Wednesday, May 22, at age 86. DeWolf was known to nearly everyone as “Handsome Dave,” and his friends, students and colleagues remember him not only for his extensive knowledge of rigging, but also for his playful personality and sense of humor.
I hit 50 alone and depressed. My life was not what I expected or wanted. There were some big issues, and I realized I needed to step outside my comfort zone. As someone who always wanted a foot on the ground and needed to know where the next foot went, I thought a skydive might shake up my world. And it certainly did!
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.
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.
Don Kellner earned USPA 45,000-Jump Wings #1 after making his 45,000th skydive on Saturday, April 20, over Above the Poconos Skydivers, which he and his wife Darlene own, in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He made the jump in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first intentional freefall, which Leslie Irvin completed April 28, 1919, in Dayton, Ohio.
With this year’s skydiving season now at the mid-point, we’ve got some great news to report on our initiative to solicit more incident reports: Many of you have responded to our plea and have begun submitting them.
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.
Dusty Hanks is a family man, four-time USPA Nationals gold medalist, world champion, world record holder and all-around good guy. Like Jason Russell and Jake Jensen, two of his teammates on 4-way vertical formation skydiving team SDC Core, he is a former motocross racer turned professional skydiver. SDC Core successfully defended its 4-way VFS national championship at the 2017 USPA Nationals and will represent the U.S. at the world championships in 2018.
For the past two years, USPA has held Learn to Skydive Month, where drop zones offered one free first-jump ground school sometime during the month. The goal of the program is to introduce more people to skydiving without obligating them to jump (in the hope that they will not only make a first jump but continue to pursue the sport).
As of the June 15, 2020, deadline, eight USPA members will appear on the ballot in the upcoming special election to fill the remainder of the Pacific Regional Director’s term on the USPA Board of Directors.
A Parachutist Pictorial
In a big win for skydiving, the Federal Aviation Administration ruled in favor of USPA Group Member DZ Phoenix Area Skydiving’s complaint to the FAA that the management of the Casa Grande, Arizona, airport was unfairly denying access to skydiving. Like many municipal airports, the Casa Grande airport has received federal funds for airport improvements.
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.
Photo by Daniel Dupuis | D-33713
Wes Sandler (top) and Anthony Zerbonia back fly in their wingsuits at Skydive San Diego in Jamul, California.
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.
Firebird USA LLC has released Public Service Bulletin FB 2019-01 which requires all Firebird EVO HC with Pillow Ripcord assemblies PN 012 built
between April 2018-March 2019 with serial numbers CB 001-CB 010 to be inspected by the manufacturer.
After nearly two full days on the ground due to weather, the first events wrapped up at the 2018 USPA National Skydiving Championships at Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Illinois.
Attitude plays a vital role in skydiving, for both students and more experienced jumpers. And although we are not airplane pilots, as skydivers we share many issues in common with pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration long ago identified five hazardous attitudes of aircraft pilots that can often lead to accidents. Skydivers can also be affected by those same five dangerous attitudes and their consequences.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Brianne Thompson. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
Photo by Terry Schumacher | D-22794
During a 10-way speed formation skydiving competition at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, team Games of Jones—featuring patriarch Bill Jones and five other members of his family—build a point.
There are three opportunities for USPA members to participate in important skydiving gatherings in the coming months.
It’s safe to say that nothing about 2020 has proceeded according to anyone’s plans. Whatever was planned in January was tossed out the window by March.
The International Skydiving Hall of Fame honors those who “through leadership, innovation and/or accomplishments, have defined, promoted and advanced skydiving at the highest and sustained level.” Those who wish to nominate a skydiver for this honor should visit skydivingmuseum.org/hall-of-fame/ for additional information and a nomination form. The Hall of Fame is currently accepting nominations for 2019’s inductees through December 31 of this year.
Quite a few examiners are taking the opportunity to use the before it becomes mandatory on February 15, 2020. Learn more about recent updates to the Online Course Manager.
One afternoon in the fall of 1988, I quit my job as head of marketing for a bank and broke up my marriage of 10 years … all within a 30-minute span. Not long after that, I took up skydiving.
I have found that shedding my ego is easier now that I have become a skydiver. There is so much fear in this sport, especially at first. The cool thing about this is that every time I jump, I train my mind to compartmentalize fear.
When I started skydiving, it was the first thing I had actually done just for me. In 1997, I made one tandem for my 30th birthday. I fell in love with skydiving, but I was a single mother of two children and my most important goal was to raise them.
July 22, 2013, was the day that changed my life. A week earlier, a coworker and I had received a briefing that a new drop zone was opening in our patrol area. The owners had invited troopers from our station to come out and make a tandem skydive.
This adventure all started around my 60th birthday, in March 2009, while talking with my co-worker, Abby, who has the same birthday as I do (though I’m 30 years older). We were trying to come up with something special to do. I mentioned that I would like to jump out of an airplane before I got too old to do it. Abby said that she had always wanted to do it, too, and we made a pact: I would do it if she would.
Fear does not stop death; it stops life. Learning to skydive has taught me this lesson and helped shape the person I am today. I was never one of those people who had always wanted to skydive. No bucket list, dare or any amount of peer pressure was going to get me to jump out of a plane. In fact, I had never even considered skydiving until my husband made his first tandem. He was hooked immediately and got his license that same year.
“This whirring carousel of images accompanied the start of the very last hour of my 45-year voyage through life. Its final phase, which commenced on the third of December, 2014, at nine minutes before noon, would be spent suspended in midair in a wicker basket dangling in the shadow of an enormous 40-meter-tall balloon, now rising silently but steadily toward the stratosphere.
I knew this moment would be critically important for the future I’d envisioned for myself.”
I took my first-jump course in Iowa in 1983. But those were college days, which meant no time or money, so my jumping didn't really take off until the summer of 1986. It was because of skydiving that I met Tim. Tim took his first-jump course in 1987, and we started jumping together.
I was an adrenaline junkie until I had a severe stroke in 2006. Last year, when I heard about a guy who was raising money to take people with disabilities to a wind tunnel, I was very curious. I didn't think that flying in a wind tunnel was possible for someone as immobile as I am, but I contacted him to see what he thought I could do.
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.
In May, USPA promoted Steve Hubbard to director of the competition and records department, which is responsible for the USPA National Championships, the U.S. Parachute Team, competitive events and skydiving records.
Actions have consequences. So do accidents, especially fatal accidents.
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.
PHOTO BY James Hatch | D-21729
Coach Carlye Bartolomeo (right) helps student Lauren Pfeifer work on her freefall skills.
Jason Russell, D-23161, is a world record holder and a newly crowned Vertical Formation Skydiving World Champion with his SDC Core teammates, one of whom is his wife. Early in his career, he left motocross racing to compete in skydiving and now has made more than 14,000 jumps. Chalk this up as a huge gain to our sport.
Jennifer Davidson, D-30287, is a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights 8-Way Formation Skydiving Team. Until recently, she was a member of GKF4, which in 2012 was the first all-female team to medal in open FS at a USPA Nationals and in 2016 took gold in women’s 4-way FS at the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Championships. A versatile jumper, Davidson was also on the 2010 FAI Women’s World Record for Largest Head-Down Formation Skydive. The Army recently promoted her to master sergeant.
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 eighth annual Jump for the Rose Pinkfest Boogie in the fall of 2017 was the best so far! The skydiving community raised $31,000, which it presented to the Rose—a non-profit clinic that provides breast cancer care to all, regardless of their ability to pay—on December 13.
Jumping at an unfamiliar drop zone can be intimidating, especially to newer skydivers who may have jumped at only one place so far. Jumpers need to approach visiting a new location with caution and planning, whether it is just a weekend jumping out of a Cessna 182 or sharing the skies with hundreds of jumpers at a large boogie. And this caution applies to jumpers of all experience levels.
Navy photographer Dale Hyder, who was stationed in Hawaii in June of 1968, captured this colorful composition of canopies at the Kanuia DZ where he frequently jumped. Hyder obviously had a passion for photography but was also an active skydiver who qualified to compete in the 1968 Nationals.
After landing, a jumper set his brakes and left the rig for a packer. The packer noticed that the jumper had stowed the left brake incorrectly by placing the toggle through the cat’s eye above the metal guide ring, which will not secure the brake line. The brake line would have released during deployment and resulted in a spinning main parachute if the other brake remained stowed. This common packing error is easily preventable by paying attention and stowing your brakes correctly.
A jumper experienced a main-parachute malfunction when the slider remained at the top of the lines after deployment and would not allow the parachute to inflate. He released the main parachute, deployed his reserve and landed safely.
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).
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.
Over the past 10 years, in her quiet and unassuming way, Director of Sport Promotion Nancy Koreen has done more for USPA and the sport than most will ever know.
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.
If your words could save a skydiver from injury or worse, would you speak up? Of course you would. In fact, such conversations probably happen every day at DZs everywhere. Whether such discussions occur after a gear check, when reviewing a dive plan or while discussing jump run or winds or a landing pattern, sharing knowledge and correcting misconceptions are a vital part of safe skydiving.
Logan Donovan, D-31751, is an Ivy League-educated software engineer who is using her skills to benefit skydiving. Along with being a competitive canopy pilot and national canopy piloting judge, she created the Control Tower scoring system used to judge CP events around the world. Donovan has medaled numerous times in Northeastern Canopy Pilot League and Florida Canopy Piloting Association meets. In September, she earned her first medals at a USPA Nationals.
In no wild nightmare could I have conceived that a virus would ground skydiving and, indeed, shut down the world.
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?)
Tony Bardell of the Seattle Sky Divers, flying alongside in Jack Ady's PT-22, shot this sequence of some of the Seattle bunch nonchalantly departing a Howard on floats.
USPA’s board of directors is holding its next meeting January 29-31 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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.
This year will mark the 53rd anniversary of the start of one of the most popular and enduring skydiving performance awards—the Bob Buquor Memorial Star Crest Recipient (SCR) award.
In "Five Minute Call," you'll read of the Oklahoma DZ owner whom a court ordered to pay a substantial sum to a 16-year-old injured in 2014 during a static-line first jump. Coincidentally, during that period, USPA's board of directors was once again debating what the Basic Safety Requirements should state as the minimum age to skydive.
A senior parachute rigger discovered this incorrectly closed reserve container during a gear check of another jumper. The reserve ripcord was on the wrong side of the grommet, and the reserve closing pin was flipped opposite of the correct orientation.
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
The National Aeronautic Association updated its process for issuing Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Sporting Licenses, which anyone participating in an FAI World Championship, World Cup or World Record must hold. Applicants must apply for their sporting licenses and pay their fees electronically at naa.aero/membership/membership-application. Processing time is five business days.
USPA is still determining whether a 2020 USPA Nationals can be conducted safely and if so, how. USPA is exploring options while trying to ensure competitors in all disciplines/events have an opportunity to compete.
This year’s USPA National Skydiving Championships at Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Illinois, September 4-18 will feature changes to the vertical formation skydiving and wingsuit flying disciplines. USPA is adding an intermediate VFS test event and replacing the intermediate performance wingsuit flying class with an advanced class.
Due to continuing uncertainties regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and after reviewing more than 450 responses to a survey of recent competitors, Skydive City Zephyrhills decided—with USPA’s full support—to decline to host the 2020 USPA Skydiving and Parachuting National Championships scheduled for October 30-November 21.
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.
Photo by Rick Winkler | D-32647
At Skydive Elsinore in California, Taylor Cole, Eric Gallan, Sean Jones and Will Kitto of U.S. Canopy Formation Team Elsinore Too Wrapped Up make a practice jump to prepare for competing in the rotations event at the FAI World Parachuting Championships Mondial.
A jumper puts on his rig, boards an airplane and exits the plane at 10,000 feet for a formation skydive with three other jumpers. Soon after the exit, one of his teammates points out that his chest strap is flapping in the wind. It is unthreaded and trailing uselessly behind his back. At deployment time, he manages to hold the two main lift webs together with his left hand and deploy with his right. He lands otherwise uneventfully. The jumper was sure that he checked his chest strap when he went through his multiple gear checks. So if he really checked his gear, what happened?
Olav Zipser spearheaded the freefly revolution of the early 1990s. He, along with a group of jumpers known as the Freefly Clowns, pioneered head-down skydiving and freeflying as we know it today. Zipser founded the Space Games freefly competition and has earned numerous championships and records, as well as an Emmy award for his work on ESPN’s “X-Games.” He has traveled extensively for decades teaching jumpers all over the world his art of freeflying, and his students say he has a Zen-like presence in the sky.
In the days following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the nation reorganized its priorities. While President Bush called for a return to life as normal in America, no group outside New York City, Pennsylvania and Northern Virginia felt the sting as much as civil aviation.
You asked, we listened! Finally, you can now renew your membership and ratings online at the same time with one payment!
As part of a new privacy initiative beginning January 1, new USPA members must specifically designate that USPA can share their accomplishments (licenses, ratings and awards) and contributions (donations to one of the four USPA funds) in print in Parachutist. New members must now also opt in for USPA to share their accomplishments and display their membership cards digitally through Sig.ma. Previously, members did not need to opt in before USPA listed their credentials but had the ability to opt out.
Orange Skies Free Fall Center launched its opening weekend at Fort Morgan Municipal Airport in Colorado April 20-21.
USPA Nationals season came to an end Thursday, September 27, at Skydive Sebastian in Florida, one day ahead of schedule. Sebastian hosted 10 days of canopy action for the 2018 USPA National Parachuting Championships, which included classic accuracy, canopy formation and canopy piloting.
Since 2009, USPA has participated in eight successful Part 16 complaints. Seven were outright wins. A Part 16 win strengthens the concept that skydiving must be given airport access unless there are strong, verifiable safety reasons for denial.
Longtime Florida drop zone owner and instructor Paul “Pop” Poppenhager, D-47, was born in June 1934 and became interested in skydiving at a young age while watching his father jump at airshows.
Following an uneventful 2-way head-down skydive, a jumper experienced a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction and a subsequent uneventful reserve deployment.
What makes a great holiday boogie? Blue skies and perfect temperatures? A line up of all the Skyvans and Twin Otters you can use? Top-notch facilities and awesome parties? How about hundreds of skydivers from around the world and fantastic organizers of nearly every discipline, all sharing the skies, keeping it safe and having the holiday of their lives? The Party in Perridise Holiday Boogie at Skydive Perris in California had all that and much more.
Photo by Brian Festi | D-26788
At Skydive DeLand in Florida, jumpers practice a sector of a formation they will build for a television program celebrating Chinese New Year.
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.
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.
Today, USPA membership stands at 40,512 and continues growing with over a half-million people in the U.S. making their first jumps every year. General aviation, however, is still in a downward arc despite the best efforts of general aviation groups to attract and keep more pilots.
Raymond Adams, D-30158, is a talented vertical formation skydiver and camera flyer who started jumping in 1993. Adams can often be found at boogies and record events, participating both as an inside flyer and outside cameraman. His photos have graced numerous Parachutist covers and centerfolds. Despite his accomplishments, his friends describe him as “humble,” as well as “someone you can count on” and “an asset to skydiving.”
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.
It’s hard to even imagine, but years ago USPA required jumpers to provide copies of their logbooks when they mailed in their applications for licenses and ratings.
If you were to experience a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction, how would you respond? Now ask yourself, are you confident that your response is correct?
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.
USPA has selected Ron Bell as its next Director of Safety & Training, succeeding Jim Crouch who has served in that position a phenomenal 18 years. Bell’s start date is October 29.
A properly sized and adjusted harness-and-container is essential to your safety both in freefall and under canopy. It’s likely that many jumpers who are reading this right now are in real danger of coming out of their harnesses during their next skydives and don’t even realize it.
Harry S. Truman once said, “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” This quote (and many others like it) warns us all that we must know our history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It comes as no surprise that this also applies directly to skydiving.
Wikipedia defines target fixation as “an attentional phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on an observed object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object.” Motorcyclists, automobile drivers and even fighter pilots flying strafing runs during World War II have focused so intently on an impending hazard that they actually maneuvered directly into it. And skydivers fall prey to the phenomenon, too.
Each year, roughly 55,000 Oahu locals and tourists visit Dillingham Airfield to skydive, glide and fly.
Sean MacCormac is a devoted father of three and an iconic skydiver who originally made his mark in skysurfing. As a skysurfer, he perfected the “invisible man” self-propelled spin, on one jump exceeding 12 revolutions per second. He also participated in the development of the Space Games freefly competition. Currently, MacCormac is a member of the Red Bull Air Force, promoting the sport of skydiving around the globe. He is also a stuntman who performed stunts for movies such as “Iron Man 3,” “Godzilla,” “Point Break” (the 2015 remake) and “The Hangover Part III.”
USPA recently promoted Stephanie Seidel to become director of its Membership Services department, the department of five that has the most interaction with USPA members.
Ten good reasons to support the 1968 United States Parachute Team. See page 6 for the story of their training and more Chip Maury photos.
USPA has selected Shanon Searls as its new Director of Sport Promotion, succeeding Nancy Koreen, who has served in this position for 10 years. Searls’ start date is December 17.
Parachutes are beginning to disappear … or, more accurately, the word “parachute” is beginning to fade from use to describe our sport, replaced by the word “skydiving”.
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.
Skydive Mountaineer held its inaugural weekend May 18-19 at the Maley Field Airport in Shinniston, West Virginia. The new DZ is operating a Cessna 182, taking off from North Central West Virginia Airport in Clarksburg and landing at Maley Field.
President George H.W. Bush knew why we jump; he was truly one of us. We mourn his passing this past Friday.
Can jump-plane safety be improved? Yes, absolutely. The goal should always be zero accidents. USPA has already shown the NTSB that we are ready to implement sensible actions that improve safety.
The National Aeronautic Association selected the four-point 42-way head-down world record as one of its most memorable aviation records of 2018. The skydivers set the record on June 30 over Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, surpassing the previous record of 33 set in 2014.
How safe is skydiving? Very safe? Somewhat safe? Not safe at all? Safety experts will say that the question really is, “What is skydiving’s level of safety?” or in other words, “What is the level of risk?” Even then, we must focus the question more to ask, “Risk of what? Death? Injury?”
Larry K. Bagley, D-4522, passed away on March 27 after a brief illness. He leaves behind his wife Cindi, D-10889. "Bags," as he was known, left a legacy in skydiving that few have ever matched or ever will. Arrangements are pending.
It’s no secret that more and more people are turning to giving gifts of experiences instead of material things.
In January, the International Skydiving Museum and Hall of Fame launched its new website at its previous address, skydivingmuseum.org.
Nathan “Nate” Pond, D-69, passed away at his home in Andover, Vermont, on November 3. He was 87.
Last year, the sport of skydiving reached record levels of safety in the U.S., while participation continued to grow to record numbers. In 2018, the U.S. Parachute Association recorded the lowest number of skydiving fatalities—13—in the U.S. since record-keeping began more than 60 years ago.
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.”
Skydivers have a special ability the general public just doesn’t have. Unfortunately, that special ability can be used in devious ways...
For skydivers, springtime weather can be both tricky and frustrating. After freezing all winter, many jumpers head to the drop zone at the first sign of a reasonably warm day, and they may be tempted to jump even if the winds are high or there are lots of clouds. But as the old saying goes, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.”
For the first time, USPA and Sigma hosted the STAR Awards at the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Dallas, Texas. The Skydiving Technology Advancement Roundup competition invited anyone who manufactures, designs, engineers or promotes technology products in the skydiving field to enter product submissions in three categories: jumper experience, drop zone tools, and safety and training. Nine finalists—three in each category—presented their products at the USPA booth in the PIA exhibit hall February 5-7.
If your canopy flies straight both in brakes and with the brakes released but it turns to the right on opening, you have a common problem that frequently has a simple, no-cost solution.
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.
Sunrise Manufacturing International, Inc., maker of the Wings harness and container system, has issued a mandatory service bulletin for rigs equipped with an RSL with Reserve Boost MARD (Main-Assisted Reserve Deployment).
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.
More than once in past “Gearing Up” columns, you’ve read me urging jumpers to take a canopy course. Of course, since 2012, USPA requires those who want a B license to take one. But it’s generally conceded that it’s a good idea for all skydivers who haven’t done so yet to go through a canopy course, no matter how many jumps they have. It’s also a good idea to go through a refresher course if your last one was a while ago. After all, the average number of jumps made by those who died last year in landing accidents was 1,840.
Last weekend, I finally took my own advice.
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.
As of the September 15, 2020, deadline, 10 USPA members will appear on the ballot in the upcoming special election to fill the remainder of National Director Albert Berchtold’s term on the USPA Board of Directors following his resignation to serve as USPA Executive Director. The election begins November 2.
The USPA Board of Directors held its fourth meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Nashville, Tennessee, September 18-20. For the first time, the board meeting was broadcast live via Zoom Webinar for any USPA members to observe.
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.
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
Executive Director Ed Scott presents former Director of Membership Services Clint Vincent, who served as USPA staff member in various positions for more than 20 total years, with a retirement plaque from all current USPA employees at his retirement party at USPA Headquarters in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Welcome to the front office! This new bimonthly column will take you behind the scenes of jump piloting to give you insight into the job and why your pilots do what they do. Author Chas Hines, C-41147, is an airline pilot and certified flight instructor who spent five years as a jump pilot at various drop zones. He has logged more than 5,000 hours of flight time, 500 of those instructing other pilots. He’s also been skydiving for 13 years and has more than 1,500 jumps. He can often be found load organizing at Skydive Arizona in Eloy.
“The Front Office” answers questions about jump pilots and piloting. You’ll learn what pilots do behind the scenes to make your favorite time of week happen, and you’ll get a one-of-a-kind view from the one seat in the airplane you never get to be in.
“The Front Office” is your worldly salvation when it comes to answering questions about jump pilots and piloting. We talk about what exactly pilots do behind the scenes to make your favorite time of week happen. We talk about what they see, what decisions they face and why they might be in a bad mood between loads. We talk about why you are wrong if you haven’t seen “Top Gun.” Mostly, you get a one-of-a-kind inside view from the one seat in the airplane you never get to be in.
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?
Melinda Ray was a 35-year-old wife and mother of three who was suffering from a disease that was quickly destroying her liver. She didn’t score high on the transplant list to qualify for a liver from a deceased donor; she had to find a living donor. She was desperate.
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.
They look over their shoulders and see me, a ginormous, unholy, nylon-flapping creature of some kind that has no right in Mother Nature’s world to be flying above them.
This is the month for you and other USPA members to select those 22 members who will serve on USPA’s board of directors and determine the association’s direction for the next three years. In this issue of Parachutist, you’ll find the election instructions and a ballot.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by David Cherry. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
Just a few weeks after giving this interview, on December 29, beloved skydiving mentor and big-way organizer Tom Jenkins, D-7707, died from the complications of Parkinson’s disease. During the interview, Jenkins—who knew his health was failing—stated his wish to pass away as a world-record holder. He achieved this wish three-fold, at the time of his death holding the 400-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Formation Skydive (set in 2006), as well as the two-point 219-way and three-point 217-way FAI World Records (set in October, when he was suffering from the ill effects of his disease but was still able to jump at the highest level). From the moment of his first jump in 1978 through the more than 22,000 jumps he made afterward, Jenkins kept up a love for skydiving that never faded. His loss has left a big hole in the skydiving community, but the lessons he taught will help guide the sport for years to come.
Legendary aerial cinematographer Tom Sanders, D-6503, has filmed skydiving scenes for dozens of movies, including “Drop Zone,” many James Bond films and the original “Point Break,” which inspired thousands of people to become skydivers. His resume also includes countless TV commercials, the award-winning documentary “Over the Edge” and coordinating filming of the 1988 Olympic Rings skydive. In 2005, USPA awarded him its Gold Medal for Meritorious Service. He is the 200th person profiled since this column began in February 2000.
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.
On June 21 a Beechcraft King Air with 10 skydivers on board crashed shortly after takeoff from Dillingham Field near Waialua, Hawaii. All 11 aboard the aircraft were killed in the crash. The recent Hawaii crash was the deadliest jump plane crash since the September 1995 crash of a Beechcraft Queen Air near West Point, Virginia that killed 11 on board the aircraft and one person on the ground.
The USPA Competition Department is looking for qualified individuals to fill the available leadership positions at the upcoming 2020 FAI World Championships at DZ Tanay in Siberia, Russia.
The testing and soft launch of USPA’s new online rating renewal system are ending, and we’re poised to release this functionality for all members possibly as early as June 10. To facilitate online renewals, many supporting features needed to be in place, and you may have already started seeing changes on your USPA profile.
If you’re a skydiver, there is no better job than to work for the U.S. Parachute Association. It’s the ultimate way of giving back to a sport that has enhanced and shaped your life.
The USPA Membership Services Committee is currently seeking nominations for three of its service awards: the Lifetime Achievement Award (a maximum of one recipient annually), the Gold Medal for Meritorious Service (up to three recipients annually) and the Regional Achievement Award (up to five recipients annually).
USPA achieved a milestone—40,000 current members!
In recent years, USPA has been aware of the growth of groups using static-lined round parachutes to either reenact World War II-style airborne jumps or simply to experience or relive military-style jumps. For the most part, these groups conduct static-line jumps from about 1,500 feet AGL using round main parachutes, front-mounted reserves and no reserve static lines, automatic activation devices or altimeters. Most but not all of their jumpers do not qualify for a USPA license and would be considered student skydivers. USPA has had no issue whatsoever with these groups doing their jumps at their own locations and at airshows with Federal Aviation Administration approval.
This 20-minute documentary shares the stories of all those who call Dillingham Airfield home and conveys what will be lost if the Hawaii legislature chooses to close the airfield.
It takes just ONE MINUTE to send an email to Hawaii legislators asking them to save Dillingham Airfield. We have made taking action easy by setting up a form for skydivers, aviators and Hawaii residents here: https://savedillinghamairfield.org/
On May 23, the USPA Board of Directors’ Executive Committee voted to allow USPA members to jump with the U.S. round parachute groups that are recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration. USPA members may perform static-line jumps with these groups using the groups’ equipment at their own airport locations, at FAA-approved airshows and demonstrations, and at events in foreign countries governed by those countries’ aviation authorities. USPA specifies that these static-line jumps must be at a minimum altitude of 1,500 feet above ground level.
On October 31, Director of Safety and Training Jim Crouch spent his last day as an employee of USPA and moved on to other challenges in the aviation industry.
Results are in for the 2019-2021 USPA Board of Directors election, which concluded October 31. *Revised 11/20/2018*
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.
The USPA Board of Directors held its second meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Arlington, Virginia, July 12-14. The Virginia location gave directors, including those on the board for the first time, the opportunity to visit USPA Headquarters, an hour south in Fredericksburg, prior to the meeting.
On August 17 USPA’s board of directors convened a meeting to discuss whether to hold or cancel the 2020 USPA National Championships.
The insurance coverage for individual members and demo jumpers will be provided by the same underwriter and be identical in all respects to the current coverage; same levels of coverage, same premiums. The change is being made to ensure that our members will continue to receive professional advice from a partner who has served the association well for many years.
DZs that have not yet received a packet should contact the Group Membership department at email@example.com as soon as possible.
The USPA Board also selected three recipients for its Gold Medal for Meritorious Service, awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to the skydiving community. All of the esteemed recipients will receive their awards at dates and locations to be determined.
The USPA Board of Directors held its fifth meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 29-31. For the second time, the board meeting was broadcast live via Zoom Webinar for USPA members to observe and over 130 USPA members registered to attend the virtual meeting.
Imagine a place that captures all of our sport’s exciting and dynamic history, where jumpers and non-jumpers alike can see the evolution of skydiving and the many facets of its rich and storied past. That’s the dream of the International Skydiving Museum and Hall of Fame, which the late USPA Executive Director Emeritus William H. Ottley conceived decades ago.
Skydiving has its risks, but the flight to jump altitude should be the safest part of any jump. That depends almost entirely on the professionalism of the pilot.
On Saturday, July 14, the U.S. Parachute Association became the official Host Country Affiliate of the International Skydiving Museum and Hall of Fame
Over the years, USPA has amassed a stunning record of helping to establish DZs on airports of all sizes and activity levels, from sleepy one-runway airports to airports with control towers and airline service.
Recently, USPA began to make changes to its data policies, due in large part to a law—the General Data Protection Rule—passed by the European Union in 2017. Effective last May, the law required organizations worldwide to take steps to safeguard the personal data of the citizens and residents of the 28 EU countries. Moreover, the law mandates that individuals have control over how, when and if organizations share their personal data. Violations can result in large fines. Personal data is defined as any data that can uniquely identify an individual … such as a membership or license number.
USPA ended April with its highest-ever membership—40,620 members! The milestone comes after last October’s high of 40,441 members. USPA reached the 40,000-member mark for the first time ever last summer. These numbers indicate that the sport of skydiving is continuing to grow, as more people not only jump for the first time, but return to pursue the sport as a hobby. USPA anticipates that these numbers will continue to climb throughout the upcoming summer season.
The principal responsibility of the S&TA is to promote safe skydiving.
On June 1, USPA began the process that culminates in its members electing the 2019-2021 USPA Board of Directors. All USPA members in good standing who are at least age 18 on or before August 1, 2018, are eligible to run for one of the 14 Regional Director or eight National Director seats.
"Over 18 years, through profound changes in skydiving equipment, procedures, and methods of instruction, Jim has worked hard to produce the dramatic decline in serious accidents in our sport."
Nancy Koreen has announced her resignation as USPA Director of Sport Promotion, effective December 31. USPA is searching for an individual to fill the position immediately.
The USPA Board of Directors is seeking a USPA member to fill an upcoming board vacancy that will be created when Albert Berchtold resigns his national director seat this fall to assume the executive director position at USPA Headquarters.
The USPA Board of Directors is seeking a USPA member from the Pacific Region to fill a vacancy on the board.
Albert Berchtold, D-27832, has been selected as USPA’s next executive director, officially taking the job on January 1, 2021. After an eight-month search process, USPA’s board of directors affirmed the decision this week.
The USPA Board of Directors held its final meeting of the three-year term July 13-15 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Read more to see the meeting highlights.
As of August 14, USPA’s board of directors has committed to holding its scheduled meeting of September 18-20 in Nashville, Tennessee.
The USPA Board of Directors met in San Antonio, Texas, March 2-4 for its winter board meeting.
Advanced Aerospace Designs has released a Public Service Bulletin PSB-01-2018, regarding certain Vigil II and Vigil 2+ Automatic Activation Devices. The bulletin provides instructions for updating the firmware of affected units that can generate an error code during high-altitude jumps above 27,000 feet. Compliance is mandatory before any jump made from 27,000 feet, or higher, or by no later than May, 2020 for those with affected units who are not making any high altitude jumps.
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.
In 1984, the IRS classified USPA as a 501(c)4 non-profit association. That was based on its finding that USPA’s main purposes “promote the common good and social welfare.” Importantly, 501(c)4 organizations can lobby government officials as long as they meet all lobby registration and lobby reporting rules. And USPA does lobby on behalf of skydiving. What does that mean? Primarily, USPA’s executive director and director of government relations engage in efforts to build relationships with various officials, usually those in the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration but sometimes other federal and state agencies.
The big question is, what will the activity level be at DZs upon reopening? And how long will it take until first-jump customers and experienced skydivers return to normal levels?
Skydiving Makes a Difference—A Parachutist series on nonprofit organizations that give back to their communities.
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.
Many jumpers are surprised to learn that women make up only about 13 percent of USPA’s membership, because it seems like there are more women than that at their DZs.
At the USPA Drop Zone Operators’ Conference this year, attendees heard from presenter Jeanice Dolan, a CPA and DZO of Ocean City Skydiving Center in Maryland, about a growing enforcement issue that is changing the landscape for DZs: worker classification. Increasingly, state and federal departments of labor are auditing businesses—including DZs—to determine whether they are correctly classifying workers as either employees or contractors. Two things are driving this government scrutiny: 1) a growing gig economy where businesses classify their workers as contractors and 2) governments’ need for tax revenues.
HDOT ordered all businesses at the airport to shut their doors by June 30, demonstrating a cold indifference to the scores of people whose livelihoods and lives will be upended.
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.
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.
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