In recent years, USPA has been aware of the growth of groups using static-lined round parachutes to either reenact World War II-style airborne jumps or simply to experience or relive military-style jumps. For the most part, these groups conduct static-line jumps from about 1,500 feet AGL using round main parachutes, front-mounted reserves and no reserve static lines, automatic activation devices or altimeters. Most but not all of their jumpers do not qualify for a USPA license and would be considered student skydivers. USPA has had no issue whatsoever with these groups doing their jumps at their own locations and at airshows with Federal Aviation Administration approval.
Recently, some of these groups have expressed the desire to conduct their jumps on Group Member DZs, using the DZ’s jump aircraft and landing area. Group Member DZs pledge that they will abide by USPA’s Basic Safety Requirements, including minimum deployment altitudes and required equipment for students. These student jumps conducted with round parachutes don’t meet the BSRs, and the DZ and any rating holder who dispatched these jumpers at such a low altitude would be in violation of USPA’s BSRs. Still, USPA began researching the issue to try to find a means of accommodation.
USPA’s concerns settled in two areas. 1) We don’t want any misconceptions that Group Member DZs offer first-jump instruction to the public that results in low-altitude, military-style static-line jumps. 2) If round-canopy jumps take place at a DZ, every effort must be made to ensure that round canopies and ram-air canopies are never in the same airspace or using the same landing area at the same time.
In early April, USPA’s Executive Committee voted to provide the Phantom Airborne Brigade with a waiver to jump at Group Member drop zones. Unique among these groups, the Phantom Airborne Brigade allows only current or former military personnel who have been military-trained to jump with them. They do not accept non-military jumpers, nor do they offer first-jump training. They have committed to working with DZs to maintain aerial and landing area separation.
USPA has therefore granted the PAB a waiver allowing it to conduct jump operations at Group Member DZs and allowing USPA members who are also PAB members to participate in these jumps, which must be conducted from no lower than 1,500 feet AGL. The waiver applies only to the Phantom Airborne Brigade and includes specific conditions and requirements for the jumps. Group Members allowing the other groups to jump are likely still in violation of the Group Member Pledge and the USPA BSRs.
Drop zones considering hosting the PAB should email USPA at email@example.com for the full requirements and to ensure compliance.
USPA is certainly willing to work with other round-canopy groups who want to jump at Group Member DZs. But the challenges are greater for some of the groups because they advertise that they will train and jump members of the general public. Some of these groups also use individuals who hold USPA ratings as jumpmasters, but who are not military-trained jumpmasters. This results in USPA rating holders dispatching students in violation of multiple BSRs.
DZOs or instructors who have any questions about whether a planned round-parachute jump violates the BSRs can email firstname.lastname@example.org.