In the April 2020 issue of Parachutist, “Rating Corner” by USPA Director of Safety and Training Ron Bell reported on changes to the USPA D-License qualifications. In any endeavor, it is disheartening and insulting to people who have earned recognitions when those recognitions are devalued by constantly lowering the standards. Only 6.5 percent of Boy Scouts do the work and make the sacrifices to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Only 1.4 percent of all U.S. Army soldiers earn the coveted title of Green Beret. Likewise, not everyone wants to be, or should be, a D-license holder.
The D license represents that the holder has earned and demonstrated the highest level of expertise in our sport and is a master parachutist. Yet over the years, USPA has repeatedly bowed to pressure from underachievers or those not willing to rise to meet the standards. Instead of holding those seeking the designation of master parachutist to an exceptional level of skill and performance across a wide spectrum of what is involved in our sport, USPA has chosen to repeatedly lower the bar. This devalues the D license. An actual water jump was whittled down to water training. Now, the night jump requirement has been eliminated.
With big DZs and turbine aircraft, people with around $15,000 to spend can accumulate the 500 jumps, meet just one of the requirements listed Section 3-1-E of the Skydiver’s Information Manual and become a master parachutist in just a few weeks. I suggest that the sport would be better served by making the USPA D License something hard to earn; a master parachutist should have to demonstrate all of the skills in the aforementioned SIM section, not just one. I would even suggest additional requirements be added, for example demonstrating skills in multiple disciplines (RW [relative work, now called formation skydiving], freeflying, wingsuiting, BASE, CRW [canopy formation], etc.). When everybody can have the license, it loses its value and becomes meaningless. Not everyone will want to rise to the challenge of being a master parachutist. That’s fine. For those who earn it, it should mean something.
Jim Graham | D-9078