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On October 16, former USPA National Director Tom Noonan, D-24313, died at age 47 from a presumed medical event while preparing to make a skydive. His passing marks a huge loss for the skydiving community, which benefitted from his expertise, intelligence and warm-heartedness for more than two decades.
Safety has always been a priority for the United States Parachute Association and its predecessor organizations, National Parachute Jumpers-Riggers Inc. (1946-1957) and the Parachute Club of America (1957-1967).
It is natural to think that accidents will happen only to other skydivers, those who court disaster by idiotically violating every rule in the book. And although it is true that they will take most of the heat, even the most experienced and responsible skydivers are not immune to a bad roll of the dice. That’s why it’s important to master the few basic skills you learned during training so you can stay calm under pressure.
Unquestionably, 2020 presented a unique set of challenges to overcome.
For tandem instructors, a periodic visit to their aviation medical examiners (AMEs) to renew their Federal Aviation Administration Third-Class Medical Certificates is a ritual that goes hand and hand with the privilege of taking tandem students on skydives.
The USPA Board of Directors held its fifth meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 29-31.
Low-altitude emergencies—emergencies that occur under canopy below 1,000 feet—continue to plague our community.
The USPA Board of Directors held its fifth meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Cincinnati, Ohio, January 29-31. For the second time, the board meeting was broadcast live via Zoom Webinar for USPA members to observe and over 130 USPA members registered to attend the virtual meeting.
Tandem instructors began using hand-mounted video cameras (aka handcams or handicams) in the last 20 years or so, and in the last decade, their use has become commonplace.
Often, USPA receives incident reports that describe a chain of bad decisions that led to an injury. Many of these reports recount instances where a jumper spent far too long working on something that felt fixable but wasn’t. So, it is refreshing to receive a report that ends with the words, “I stayed altitude aware, trusted my training and had a safe, smooth landing.”
This year, my wish list is all about the basics that make skydiving safer.
The USPA Instructor Rating Manual states in T3—Tandem Method, Section 3-4, F—Tandem Emergencies: “In the event of a main canopy malfunction, decide and act by 3,000 feet to cut away and deploy reserve.”
Instructors have been performing a lot of currency training lately and overall have been doing a great job. However, our recent incident reports show that one area of emergency-procedure training could use more emphasis: low-altitude emergencies under canopy.
Half-braked canopy flight is a useful and life-saving skill, but recent incident reports (including the non-fatal incident reports in this issue of Parachutist) show that it is highly underutilized.
Jumping—usually from a structure—accounts for 5.8 percent of all suicides in the United States, and has an 85 percent success rate, which is similar to suicide by firearm.
In the beginning, there was accuracy or, as it was called at the time, “spot jumping.”
One night, as you’re reading a bedtime story to your young parachute, it will inevitably want to know the answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” A responsible parachute owner had better be ready with the answers.