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    How Skydiving Changed My Life

    Published on Tuesday, June 1, 2021

    How Skydiving Changed My Life

    By Michael Williams

    Just a few years ago, I felt that my dreams of returning to flying were over. I had gotten my private-pilot license in the ’90s, but life got in the way, so I had not been flying for more than 20 years. My wife had arranged for an AFF first-jump course at Skydive Spaceland-Dallas in Whitewright, Texas, on my 50th birthday, but I never followed up after that first exciting jump. I often looked skyward, watching small aircraft flying over my home, wishing I could fly again but feeling that I would never.

    In 2017, I was in my late 50s, weighed 250-plus pounds and had developed diabetes and high blood pressure in the process. I had just bought an old 1957 Cessna 172 from a good friend to see if I could recapture my flying enthusiasm and skills. Flying aerobatic aircraft was also on my bucket list, and for that you are required to wear a parachute (in case the wings fall off), so I figured that I’d better learn how to fly one. I remembered there was a weight restriction for skydiving, so I decided to get in shape. I also needed to pass my Federal Aviation Administration Third-Class Medical to bring my private-pilot license current, so I closed my pie hole and moved my butt with the goal of getting down to 200 pounds. 

    By cutting out alcohol, I dropped 10 pounds in the first month. (I didn’t think I drank that much!) The diabetes and hypertension faded away after another 10 pounds came off thanks to daily elliptical sessions in my garage. By the fourth month, I had lost 30 pounds and passed my FAA flight physical, except for a CPAP issue. (A long story, but you can fight the system and win.) I now have an unrestricted class-three FAA medical certificate. My primary goal was still to get to 200 pounds so I could qualify to jump in Spaceland’s Skydiver Training Program (two tandems and then AFF jumps). My memory was a little wrong on the 200-pound restriction (I could have weighed more), but that was fine; it made me determined to get in shape.

    My aircraft flight training went slowly but well. I was more nervous than my instructor. The change in aviation technology since the ’90s was like waking up in the future. So much technology! But an airplane still flies the same.

    By my 60th birthday in August 2019, I had reached my goal weight, so my wife Joann and I decided to try the skydiving thing. I just wanted to get familiar enough to save my life if the aerobatic aircraft I was flying decided to lose a wing or something, but Jo was curious and does not like being outdone in any way. We did the obligatory tandems on a Saturday early in September 2019. I had to make only one tandem, because they gave me credit for my AFF 1 jump almost 11 years earlier. Jo hated the first tandem because the instructor spiraled down too quickly, making her dizzy and nauseous, but after a short rest and a new instructor, the second jump was gentle and magical. She was hooked. The AFF class started the next morning, on Sunday, and we haven’t looked back since. We spent the next five weekends at the DZ in training. I received my A license in November. It took Joann (the precise accountant) a little longer, but she did it! I never thought she would take it that far. We both now have our own brand-new matching jumpsuits and rigs. 

    We regularly park our RV at the DZ and jump for the entire weekend. Little Jack Pyland, a USPA Board member and a friend of a friend, has adopted us, and he is now our trusted mentor and good friend. We have made many new friends, and our skydiving family keeps growing. Skydiving saved my life and got me healthy again. We are hooked for life.

    Michael Williams | A-93468
    Midlothian, Texas

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    2021-2022 Instructional Rating Manual (IRM) Evaluations Forms PDF (fillable)   (Mar 2021) Downloads Manuals Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
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    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
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    Proficiency Card: Tandem Instructor PDF   (Mar 2021) Forms Instructional & PRO Ratings
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    USPA Meeting Minutes

    2022 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Mar 2022) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    BOD 2021 Summer Meeting PDF   (Sep 2021) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
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    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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    2016 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Jul 2016) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2016 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2016) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director 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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    BOD 2011 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2011) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    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
    BOD 2007 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2007) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    2007 General Membership Meeting PDF   (May 2007) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2007 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2007) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    2006 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Nov 2006) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    2005 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Aug 2005) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
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    2003 General Membership Meeting PDF   (Aug 2003) USPA Meeting Minutes Gen. Membership Meeting
    BOD 2003 Summer Meeting PDF   (Jul 2003) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
    BOD 2003 Winter Meeting PDF   (Jan 2003) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting
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    BOD 2001 Winter Meeting PDF   (Feb 2001) USPA Meeting Minutes Board of Director Meeting 2000-2005
    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.

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

    Spanish Version – January 1, 2021