At the USPA Drop Zone Operators’ Conference this year, attendees heard from presenter Jeanice Dolan, a CPA and DZO of Ocean City Skydiving Center in Maryland, about a growing enforcement issue that is changing the landscape for DZs: worker classification. Increasingly, state and federal departments of labor are auditing businesses—including DZs—to determine whether they are correctly classifying workers as either employees or contractors. Two things are driving this government scrutiny: 1) a growing gig economy where businesses classify their workers as contractors and 2) governments’ need for tax revenues.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by David Cherry. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
Ink and pencil, based on a photo by Jen Mackinnon
I’m guessing that most readers were impressed by the flaming canopy on the cover of the March Parachutist, but I’m not one of them. It’s hard for me to believe that you’d sanction this kind of lunacy, especially on the cover of the Safety Day issue! But hey, that’s just me.
While reading the March magazine, I noticed that the Collegiates will no longer include classic accuracy. It’s a passing. It made me recall when, a few years ago, the U.S. Army Parachute Team leadership got out of classic. I also remembered when those APT guys set all kinds of accuracy records. At least classic is still pretty strong in Europe.
Today’s fast-paced communication has changed the way we view our world and ourselves. To receive a million views or thousands of followers or thousands of likes seems to be a top priority. And people need to come up with original ideas faster than ever to stay ahead of the pack. But what happens when these ideas or stunts break the law or violate safety policies or jeopardize our sport?
Thank you, Ed Scott, for your “Gearing Up” in April’s Parachutist. We need to report our incidents so we can understand potential problems and deal with them early. Our personal influence on safety can have an overall impact of reducing injuries in the sport. It isn’t the rules; it’s the behaviors. With the fatality rate being less than 1 per 100,000, we need to focus on near misses. Incident reporting increases our opportunity to get ahead of our injuries and fatalities.
In February, I survived a low-altitude canopy collision with another parachutist while skydiving at a busy drop zone in Southern California. We wrapped and came spinning down to crash land on an RV supply parts warehouse. I punched a hole through the roof and was knocked unconscious, yet miraculously, the worst injury I suffered was a badly broken wrist. The other jumper hit a second or two after me and broke two ribs.
Ever since I was young, I’ve been the adventurous type. I constantly seek new experiences and never let “no” get in the way. I’ve never had the mentality of letting life come to me; I’ve always chased it. I’d see something I wanted to try and go after it, whether it be acting in movies (I was in two), doing stand-up comedy or excelling in my career.
John Mitchell, D-6462, started skydiving in 1974 and has been a positive presence in the sport since the first day he set foot on a DZ. He is a longtime AFF, static-line and tandem instructor and a weekend fun jumper who is always willing to jump with others, regardless of skill or experience.
Kevin Kierce leads the base down the hill during the Top Flite formation skydiving event at Skydive Perris in California.
The weekend of April 28-29, Skydive Suffolk in Virginia hosted the Magical Neon Rampage, a Sisters in Skydiving event. Load organizers Carlye Barto and Chazi Blacksher focused on individual skills in group settings. The ladies earned sweet jerseys and leggings from Kua Sky and scored a neckie courtesy of Kua Sky in their boogie bags. A few participants met for dinner after jumping on Saturday and enjoyed talking about the day’s jumps over wine and chocolate chip cookies.
Jumpers at Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina, fly a missing-man formation in honor of Justin Lowell Goff, who passed away April 21.
On March 1-3, Guy Wright and Arizona Airspeed’s Niklas Hemlin joined forces for the third installment of Eloy Team Elite. Once again, jumpers traveled from all over the United States and beyond for a fast-paced weekend of challenging multi-point 36-way skydives from 16,500 feet.
Rattlesnake Mountain Skydiving is a new USPA Group Member drop zone located in Prosser, in the heart of Washington, a place that has been dubbed the birthplace of the Washington wine industry. Seated in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Prosser boasts more than 200 days of sunshine each year and, from full altitude, offers views of three of the Pacific Northwest’s most recognizable mountains, as well as the Columbia and Yakima rivers below.
Skydive Arizona in Eloy held its Elemental Easter Festival April 19-21. During the event, attendees played with the four elements: water (a swoop ‘n’ slide and Zorb ball), fire (a full-moon bonfire and fire dancers), wind (an LED night huck in the onsite SkyVenture Arizona wind tunnel) and earth (planting flowers in recycled art vases).
Phil Mayfield, D-2629, first joined USPA in 1969. He made his first jump on March 9 of that year with four of his teenage buddies in Cedar Hill, Texas, and never stopped. Exactly 50 years later, he made a 2-way formation skydive with his son, Aaron, at Skydive Spaceland-Dallas in Whitewright, Texas, to celebrate the occasion. In the past, he’s also had the opportunity to jump with his other son, Jake.
At Skydive the Gulf in Elberta, Alabama, Leigh Miller makes a tandem jump with DZO Luke Church to raise awareness of sexual assault survivors.
United Parachute Technologies and Sun Path Products are joining forces to co-sponsor the development, training and sale of the Mutant supine harness, which is geared toward highly experienced canopy pilots. This is the first time the direct competitors have worked together to this extent in the sport market.
Firebird, maker of the EVO harness-and-container system, has issued a product service bulletin after a pillow-reserve-ripcord cable separated from the reserve pin during assembly on a newly delivered EVO. Although Firebird says it is confident that this is an isolated incident, the company has taken additional steps to ensure the safety of its users.
Karen Bodin (purple helmet), D-37818, makes one of a series of birthday jumps organized by Kevin Kierce at Skydive Perris in California.
Michael Erickson (black and yellow rig) coaches John Kidd Sr. at Skydive Spaceland-Dallas in Whitewright, Texas.
Local, state and federal agencies exercise minimal control and supervision over skydiving, recognizing that those most capable of regulating skydiving are those who do it. At the very core of this system is the USPA Safety and Training Advisor, an unpaid volunteer appointed by the USPA Regional Director serving that drop zone.
The USPA incident reporting system has been due for a significant overhaul for some time now, and it is getting one. USPA members reported 4,277 reserve rides and 2,147 injuries that required medical care in 2018, but USPA received only 29 incident reports. Sit back for a moment and imagine the lessons lost to the skydiving community when all it would have taken is for each of those jumpers to have spent 10 minutes filling out a short report.
Density altitude, to put it blandly, is pressure altitude corrected for non-standard temperature. What that means in English is that the air is the equivalent density (thickness) that you would find at x-thousand feet on an average day. So, if you are at a sea-level DZ with a density altitude of 4,000 feet, it will feel as if you are actually at an elevation of 4,000 feet.
Travis Mickle swoops the pond on his way to taking the overall bronze medal at Florida Canopy Piloting Association Meet 2 at Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida.
(More articles being added every day!)
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