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. Events, boogies, camps, record attempts, canopy courses, rating courses … all were thrown into uncertainty. Many were cancelled; others were postponed until more informed decisions could be made.
This holds true for USPA. As soon as DZs began to close or delay their season openings, we knew our typical sources of revenue—membership dues and license and rating fees—would drop. We quickly made decisions to cut costs. We curtailed staff travel and did not fill vacant positions. We deferred typical office expenses and canceled some orders. By doing this, we weathered the financial storm. Now that skydiving has rebounded somewhat, USPA once again has a firm financial footing. Every year, staff presents a balanced budget for board approval, and we’ll continue to strive to end the year with an operational excess instead of a deficit, though it will be difficult.
I typically give a mid-year status report to the board of directors when it meets in July. That meeting has been postponed to September, so I’ll give the stats to you instead. At the end of July, membership totaled 38,030 with 2,697 new members joining in the first six months of the year. Last July, we had 41,239 members, having signed up 4,071 new members since the beginning of the year. So far this year we’ve issued 3,091 new licenses and 677 new instructional ratings; at this point last year we had issued 4,491 new licenses and 1,156 new ratings. Clearly, member activity—a phrase describing memberships, licenses and ratings—will be down this year, the first time in several years that our numbers haven’t increased.
Just a few weeks after this issue of Parachutist goes to press but before you receive it in the mail, the board will decide whether to continue with plans for an in-person board meeting September 18-20 in Nashville, Tennessee. Currently the City of Nashville has regressed to a Phase 2 level, restricting meeting size and restaurant capacity and closing bars. Will restrictions loosen prior to mid-September? Right now, that’s anyone’s guess. Contingency plans are already in place to conduct a virtual USPA Board Meeting, which would be a first. We’re also gaming out how to conduct the required annual General Membership Meeting in a virtual way. We’ll use our e-newsletters and social media to let you know.
While 2020 is in disarray, some things haven’t changed. Skydivers still need the benefit of USPA’s continuous safety analysis and education. Members still receive skydiving content in the monthly Parachutist magazine, the USPA Update and Professional e-newsletters, and our social media platforms. Our Membership Services staff still provide fast, friendly and efficient processing of all applications. Members still need USPA assistance when working on skydiving issues with airport managers. FAA officials still need USPA’s viewpoint about the intent of federal aviation regulations and related internal FAA guidance that pertain to skydiving. Legislators need our information and perspective as they try to address perceived laxity or loopholes in the regulations that apply to DZs and jump plane operators. We’re still assisting organizers planning future competitions and record attempts. And we continue adapting new technology to smooth out all the application processes and assist members in tracking and verifying their license and rating requirements. In other words, USPA continues doing all the things you expect and many that you don’t.