This month, we bid a fond farewell to a dedicated team member at USPA as Director of Government Relations Randy Ottinger retires after 15 years of dedicated service. In the later pages of this issue, you will find more information about the man behind the scenes, whose efforts are heavily responsible for skydiving’s growth as an aeronautic activity and who has ensured our continued right to access airports and airspace. He has never been one to look for credit for his work, for a camera to stand in front of or a soapbox to speak from. He would never talk about himself. He is humble. He is honest. He is honorable. And we owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for his service.
As I consider Randy’s hard work here at USPA, I consider how it pertains to our core mission or “the Big Three,” as I like to call them. These are: To promote safe skydiving through training, licensing and instructor qualification programs; to ensure skydiving’s rightful place on airports and in the airspace system; and to promote competition and record-setting programs. So how are we doing in those efforts? While there is always room for improvement and growth, our internal measures tell us we’re doing a pretty bang-up job.
But how does our membership feel we’re doing? In our most recent membership survey earlier this year, we asked precisely that question. Before I get to the answer, I’ve got to be honest and say that I was a little scared to ask the question. As I scroll through social media (usually at least once a day), it’s always interesting what I see, and it can influence my views on certain topics. While public opinion isn’t our sole driver here at USPA, we certainly care about it. And when I see or hear about members who are unhappy with or misinformed about the work our organization does, it certainly weighs on me. But sometimes what we take away from scrolling every day could not be further from the truth.
We had just over 5,100 folks respond to the survey, which asked members to rate how we’re doing in each of the Big Three. When averaging the results of the survey in those areas, USPA members rate the performance of our core functions as:
- Good, Very Good or Excellent—80%
- No Opinion—12%
I have to say I was a little relieved. If I were to fill out this survey myself based on what I read on social media, I would probably have guessed that 90% of the world thinks we’re doing a horrendous job. While sad, I guess that’s sometimes what drives the social-media engine.
Do our members believe we’re doing well? Yes. Are we doing a good job of conveying and communicating our work to our members? Yes. Should we sit back and rest on our laurels? Not a friggin’ chance. The pursuit of our mission will not rest. We’ve got many projects in the works that will help our sport grow into the future. Some of these are short term, others are longer-term initiatives and programs. Our mission requires constant attention by those who work here, our board of directors, our group members and—most importantly—every individual USPA member around the world.