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    Published on Wednesday, May 1, 2019

    How Skydiving Changed My Life

    By Will Ghormley

    There’s nothing like the bonds soldiers forge during their service to our nation. Perhaps the hardest thing in civilian life is separation from that brotherhood. It leaves a hole. I think every veteran feels that. But when a veteran battles post-traumatic stress disorder, the feeling is even stronger. It’s like nobody but your buddies understand, and they ain’t there.

    Having jumped in the military, I had some idea what I was getting into when I walked onto a civilian DZ. What I wasn’t prepared for was the culture. It was tribal. Everyone was eager to see if I would join the tribe and become family. The atmosphere of the DZ had a welcoming embrace. It was strong and familiar like the barracks but without the hardness. I realized that the intensity of the shared experience somehow created the intensity of the bond. I’d never been to this DZ, but I had stepped into a parallel reality, and I was home.

    I was a paratrooper, though it had been decades since I last jumped. I thought, “No big deal, jumping out of planes is jumping out of planes.” When we began loading the little one-eight-deuce that would fly us to altitude, I realized that it wasn’t anything like a C-130 rolling down the strip taking Airborne Daddy for a one-way trip. It was a toy.

    As a static-line jumper, I was the last to load. Before me, a little old lady with a walker was loading into the plane for her first tandem jump. The next time she would be in that door she would be strapped to the chest of her instructor at about 10,000 feet. But right now, she backed her walker up to the door, sat on the edge and three guys picked her up and loaded her into the plane.

    I knew how to deal with pre-jump anxiety. It wasn’t until the door opened a foot away that I began to realize how different this was from my Army jumps. I felt like I’d be sucked out the door as the wind whipped through the cabin. It was just my mind being irrational. After all, the whole reason I booked this flight was to be sucked out that door. At the instructor’s signal, I began my exit sequence as rehearsed.

    Clutching each side of the doorway, I lowered both feet into the wind and planted them on the wheel fairing. I snaked my left hand toward the wing strut to get a firm grip. The force of the wind was surprising. I stretched my right hand toward the strut as the wind clawed at me to drag me from the aircraft. I slid my hands up the strut to the red lines where I would hang. What I wasn’t prepared for was the terror! Did I really think I wanted to skydive?

    My feet left the fairing to hang from the strut. This was something daredevil barnstormers did, not sane people. I looked back toward the door to judge how hard it would be to climb back inside. But the doorway was half-filled with my instructor who would give me the “go” sign. The other half was filled by the old lady with the walker. She had a huge grin as she watched me dangling from the strut. The wind was rattling her dentures.

    My instructor gave me the “go,” but I had a good grip on that strut. I was pretty sure I could hang on until the plane landed. I glanced back at the old lady. She was shooing me off with both hands. And though her voice was lost in the roar of the wind, she was mouthing, “Just let go! I’m not getting any younger!”

    I realized that dying of embarrassment was worse than plummeting to my death, so I let go. It was freedom … not freedom from fear but from being controlled by fear. It was the freedom that comes when you take your life in your hands and make of it what you can. Then the jerk of the canopy opening, the performance checks and the amazing flight back to earth. Terror dissolved into triumph.

    When fear can be mastered, every emotion can be mastered. You size up the next challenge, square off your shoulders and set to it! The seed planted that day would grow into Operation Wings of Freedom, an organization that helps veterans battle post-traumatic stress disorder through skydiving. What better way for veterans to battle PTSD than head-on, surrounded by their tribe.

     

    More information about Operation Wings of Freedom is available at opwof.org.

    Will Ghormley | USPA #331709
    Chariton, Iowa

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    Forms

    2021-2022 Instructional Rating Manual (IRM) Evaluations Forms PDF (fillable)   (Mar 2021) Downloads Manuals Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
    2021-2022 Instructional Rating Manual (IRM) Forms PDF   (Mar 2021) Downloads Manuals Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
    A-License Proficiency Card (1 page) PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Licenses & Proficiency Cards
    A-License Progression Card (ISP; 2 pages) PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Licenses & Proficiency Cards
    Application: B-D License PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Licenses & Proficiency Cards
    Application: Canopy Formation Award PDF   (Apr 2021) Forms Awards
    Application: Judge Rating PDF   (May 2015) Forms Judge Rating
    Application: PRO Rating & High Performance Endorsement PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings Demos
    Application: Tenure Award PDF   (Apr 2010) Forms Awards
    Application: USPA Membership & Rating Renewal PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
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    Canopy Piloting Proficiency Card PDF   (Sep 2019) Forms Licenses & Proficiency Cards
    Demo Insurance Application and Notification Form PDF   (Nov 2020) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings Demos
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    Initial Application for College Clubs (U.S. Only) PDF   (Oct 2021) Downloads Forms Group Membership
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    Proficiency Card: AFF Instructor PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
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    Proficiency Card: Examiner PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
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    Proficiency Card: Military Transition PDF   (Sep 2021) Forms Licenses & Proficiency Cards
    Proficiency Card: Tandem Instructor PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
    S&TA Waiver Form PDF   (Apr 2018) Downloads Forms Waivers
    Waiver Request PDF   (Nov 2019) Downloads Waivers

    USPA Meeting Minutes

    2022 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Mar 2022) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2022 Winter Meeting PDF   (Mar 2022) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    BOD 2021 Summer Meeting PDF   (Sep 2021) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    2021 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Sep 2021) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2021 Winter Meeting PDF   (Mar 2021) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    BOD 2020 Summer Meeting PDF   (Dec 2020) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
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    BOD 2019 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2019) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
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    BOD 2015 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2015) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
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    2014 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Jul 2014) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    2013 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Jul 2013) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2013 Winter Meeting PDF   (Mar 2013) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    2012 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Mar 2013) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    2011 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Aug 2011) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    2010 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Aug 2010) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2010 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2010) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    BOD 2010 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2010) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    2009 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Sep 2009) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2009 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2009) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    BOD 2009 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2009) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    BOD 2008 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2008) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    2008 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Apr 2008) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2008 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2008) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
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    2007 General Membership Meeting PDF   (May 2007) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    BOD 2000 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2000) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting 2000-2005

    Miscellaneous

    2013 DOT Opinion on Taxes PDF   (Jan 2014)
    Advanced Aerospace Designs Issues Reminders to Vigil Customers   (Dec 2019)

    On October 23, Advanced Aerospace Designs issued reminders of approaching deadlines for compliance with its last two service bulletins.

    After-market Tandem Risers MANDATORY – REPLACE BEFORE THE NEXT JUMP   (Sep 2020)

    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.

    Article: 9/11 Aftermath Report PDF   (Aug 2016)
    Article: Angle Flying PDF   (Nov 2015)
    Article: Ches Judy Award PDF   (Oct 2015)
    Article: Gear Fear PDF   (Sep 2015)
    Article: Landing in a Tree PDF   (Mar 2015)
    Article: Safety in Numbers PDF   (Jan 2011)
    Article: The RSL PDF   (Jan 2014)
    Article: Water Landings PDF   (Mar 2015)
    Canopy Risk Quotient PDF   (Oct 2015)
    Canopy Risk Quotient LINK   (Mar 2020)
    Dermody Letter PDF   (Jul 2012)
    Dunn Letter PDF   (Jul 2012)
    DZO Memo PDF   (Jul 2012)
    FAA AC 105-2E PDF   (Dec 2013)
    FAA AC 90-66B CHG 1 PDF   (Feb 2019)
    FAA Airworthiness Directive for certain UPT reserve pin covers PDF   (Apr 2021)

    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.

    FAA Proposal (07/03/12) PDF   (Jul 2012)
    Flight Planner   (Jan 2019)
    Huerta Letter PDF   (Jul 2012)
    Insurance Policy Summary   (Mar 2021)
    ISP Grid PDF   (May 2012)
    Parachute Landing Area Update PDF   (Aug 2012)
    Skydiving Makes the Perfect Experience Gift   (Dec 2019)

    It’s no secret that more and more people are turning to giving gifts of experiences instead of material things.

    Strong Enterprises Issues Service Bulletin for Tandem Drogue PDF   (Apr 2021)

    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 Hangar Policy Comments PDF   (Jun 2016)
    Wingsuit Instructor Draft PDF   (Sep 2012)

    SIM Translations into Other Languages

    Language Translation Disclaimer

    Translations of the Skydiver’s Information Manual (SIM) are prepared by third-party translators in an effort to make USPA documents accessible to those who may not read English. The official and binding documents which govern USPA are the English versions. While good faith efforts are made to provide accurate translations, portions may be incorrect and may conceivably communicate incorrect safety standards. In addition, some terminology when translated may not be completely accurate due to language differences and limitations. The United States Parachute Association (USPA) shall not be responsible or liable for any errors, omissions or ambiguities in the translated versions of documents or for any consequences of any such errors, omissions or ambiguities, including personal injury or death. Any person or entity who relies on translated content does so at their own risk. USPA shall not be liable for any losses, damages or harm, including personal injury or death, caused by reliance on the accuracy or reliability of translated documents or information. If you would like to report a translation error or inaccuracy, we encourage you to contact us.

    Please note the revision date of any translated copy you are reviewing and verify that it is no earlier than the revision date of the corresponding English version. Any edits made to the original English version after the translated version’s revision date would not be reflected in the translation.

    Chinese-English (Bilingual Version) – January 1, 2021

    Spanish Version – January 1, 2021