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. As of January 1, USPA’s new requirements are in place. Jumpers must now take a canopy course and submit a completed and properly signed USPA Canopy Piloting Proficiency Card before receiving a USPA B-license. Candidates for the C or D license who do not already hold a USPA B license must also take a course and include a completed canopy proficiency card with their license applications. However, jumpers who already hold a USPA B, C or D license are not required to complete the canopy proficiency card.
Many jumpers have already attended a structured canopy course even though there had been no requirement to do so. Most report that the course was an eye-opening experience and full of useful tips, new skills and valuable information. Even jumpers with decades of experience and thousands of jumps have found the courses to be valuable learning experiences.
The new requirements state that a USPA Safety & Training Advisor must approve the canopy course director and sign the proficiency card completed by the license candidate. The local S&TA should know who is most qualified to teach this course. USPA recommends that the person who teaches this course be a USPA-rated instructor with extensive knowledge of canopy flight. However, a knowledgeable canopy pilot with no USPA ratings may be the best choice as a course director, and for that reason, the board chose to leave it up to the local S&TA to select the most qualified person to run this course and to make it the S&TA’s responsibility to sign off on the proficiency card.
Jumpers can complete the required ground training and five jumps as part of one course or split it up into pieces and complete the requirements on different days. The majority will find it most effective to attend one structured course that focuses specifically on the canopy-control training requirements. The course director must use the content of Skydiver’s Information Manual Sections 6-10 and 6-11 during the course. The proficiency card is included in Appendix C of the SIM and is also available as a download on uspa.org under the USPA Members tab.
Whether you are a newly A-licensed jumper working toward your B or a seasoned vet with many years of jump experience, you have to fly a parachute to a safe area and land it. It only makes sense to get the training and education to ensure that you know as much as possible about canopy flight and that you fly your canopy as safely as possible. Check with your local S&TA for help with arranging a course if there is not one already scheduled at your drop zone.
—Jim Crouch | D-16979
USPA Director of Safety & Training