My first year here at USPA as director of safety and training has gone by so quickly. I now understand why former Director of Safety and Training Jim Crouch’s last words to me as he walked out the door after 18 years of service were, “There was so much I wanted to get done here. Good luck!” (Note to self: Read between the lines when a job description says, “Ability to multitask required.”) I can almost feel Jim’s presence chasing me around the office as I jump from one project to another.
In 2018, Jim’s final year here at USPA, there were 13 skydiving fatalities in the U.S.—a 60-year record low. Although we’ve already surpassed that number of fatalities in 2019, it has still been a rather safe year with 14 skydiving deaths as of mid-October. (However, that number jumps to 25 if you include the unfortunate souls who perished in the Hawaii jump-plane crash.)
This year, my wish list is all about the basics that make skydiving safer. These are lessons that the incident reports—both fatal and non-fatal—show us need to be reinforced.
So, there you have it, Santa. It’s not a long list, but it’s relatively comprehensive. If you could grant me these 11 items, it will not take another 60 years to break our record low fatality count that stands at 13. In fact, I’m confident that we could break it next year.
Each year, in addition to his wish list on behalf of skydivers, Jim asked you for a fast car. I see that you finally granted his wish with a Corvette. However, I hear he has been driving around in a little plastic Jeep these days. This job may have driven him a little nutty. It might drive me there, as well.
Ron Bell | D-26863
USPA Director of Safety and Training
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