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Wingsuit training is multi-faceted and requires both freedom and flexibility to change with the rapid development of suit design, competition formats and flying styles.
A properly sized and adjusted harness-and-container is essential to your safety both in freefall and under canopy. It’s likely that many jumpers who are reading this right now are in real danger of coming out of their harnesses during their next skydives and don’t even realize it.
Have you ever spent months working with a student, ensuring that you covered each category and transferred the necessary knowledge and skills, then proudly stamped the A-license card and watched in disbelief as he ran off to sign up for a 10-way speedstar competition with a freshly mounted GoPro on his helmet?
Skydiving coaches, instructors and instructor examiners would much rather spend time in the air skydiving than on the ground handling paperwork. While this is understandable (hey, nobody likes to fill out forms, right?), each rating holder’s administrative responsibilities are extremely important.
“When can I downsize to a smaller main canopy?” This is probably the most commonly asked question at every drop zone around the world. It seems like everyone—from newly licensed jumpers to those with thousands of skydives—wants to jump a smaller parachute. The answer to the question is tricky and can mean the difference between an uneventful experience and a serious injury or even fatality.
After landing, a jumper set his brakes and left the rig for a packer. The packer noticed that the jumper had stowed the left brake incorrectly by placing the toggle through the cat’s eye above the metal guide ring, which will not secure the brake line. The brake line would have released during deployment and resulted in a spinning main parachute if the other brake remained stowed. This common packing error is easily preventable by paying attention and stowing your brakes correctly.
"Over 18 years, through profound changes in skydiving equipment, procedures, and methods of instruction, Jim has worked hard to produce the dramatic decline in serious accidents in our sport."
In a sport that requires correctly functioning equipment for your survival, how much do you really know about your skydiving gear? Each year, fatal and non-fatal accidents stem from issues with skydiving equipment. The vast majority of these could have been avoided had the jumpers simply known more about their gear or performed basic gear checks to discover the problem before boarding or exiting the airplane.
Last August, two tandem double fatalities occurred just a week apart. The details for both of those tragic accidents can be found in “Incident Reports” in this issue of Parachutist. While the casual observer may not see a correlation between the two accidents, they should be a flashing neon warning sign that screams for every tandem examiner, Safety and Training Advisor and drop zone operator to regularly review staff members’ tandem procedures.
Several changes that came out of the March 2-4 USPA Board meeting in San Antonio, Texas, affect USPA rating holders.
Over the years, many hoped that the wingsuiting community would develop safely without the need for heavy-handed regulation from USPA. Those who opposed a wingsuit instructor rating argued that USPA does not—and should not—require specific training for or regulate advanced skydiving such as freeflying or high-performance canopy piloting. The best example of a skydiving discipline that developed excellent training methods and safety guidelines without requiring USPA regulation is canopy formation skydiving. The pioneers of canopy formation skydiving learned what worked well and what didn’t work well and formulated the best processes and techniques for teaching jumpers who are new to the discipline. Those guidelines continued to evolve and improve, and now it is very rare that a fatality occurs during a canopy formation jump.
While it generally does not cause a malfunction, a stuck slider can greatly affect the performance of the canopy. Following a main canopy deployment, jumpers should perform a thorough visual inspection followed by a controllability check immediately after ensuring that the airspace is clear around them.
If you ever need a quick and easy way to make every coach and instructor in the hangar run away and hide, just yell, “I need someone to handle the student radio!”
For skydivers, springtime weather can be both tricky and frustrating. After freezing all winter, many jumpers head to the drop zone at the first sign of a reasonably warm day, and they may be tempted to jump even if the winds are high or there are lots of clouds. But as the old saying goes, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.”
Each year, more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. As the use of pot continues to gain acceptance around the country, the skydiving community needs to be aware that it may lead to some issues with students, licensed jumpers and instructional rating holders.
As adult human beings, we make approximately 35,000 decisions a day … 35,000! That’s a ton of decision making! If you’re a skydiving coach or instructor, a lot of those decisions involve the safety and wellbeing of skydiving students, and hopefully, your decisions are based completely on those considerations.
A jumper puts on his rig, boards an airplane and exits the plane at 10,000 feet for a formation skydive with three other jumpers. Soon after the exit, one of his teammates points out that his chest strap is flapping in the wind. It is unthreaded and trailing uselessly behind his back. At deployment time, he manages to hold the two main lift webs together with his left hand and deploy with his right. He lands otherwise uneventfully. The jumper was sure that he checked his chest strap when he went through his multiple gear checks. So if he really checked his gear, what happened?
Good judgment comes from experience, but for many, a lot of their experience comes from bad judgment. Regardless of whether you are just getting started in teaching skydiving by gaining a USPA Coach rating or have been at it for years and are receiving an Instructor Examiner rating, working toward a goal and earning a new rating is a challenging process that requires hard work and dedication. It is the end of one process (preparing and completing a certification course) and the beginning of another (the real-world environment). You have proven you deserve the rating with your knowledge and flying skills, but now is when learning really begins.
An ever-increasing number of tandem accidents are attributable to the use of handcams, either as a direct or indirect cause. Sadly, the mistakes leading to these accidents are easy to see in high-definition video, as the tandem instructors continue filming with a straight left arm even as the world around them is going to hell.
At its summer board meeting in Arlington, Virginia, the USPA Board approved significant changes to Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 7-2—Professional Exhibition Rating.
Arturo Espinosa celebrates his 300th jump and 43rd birthday by making a hybrid with Manrique Ramirez Sabat and Bernardo Jimenez Vega at Skydive Pura Vida.
The USPA Board of Directors held its second meeting of the 2019-2021 term in Arlington, Virginia, July 12-14.
Brought to you by Steve Lefkowitz of SDC Rhythm XP (rhythmskydiving.com). Additional instructional materials are available by downloading the Rhythm apps: Rhythm Skydiving 101 and Rhythm Skydiving 401.
At the USPA Board of Directors’ summer meeting July 12-14 in Arlington, Virginia, the Safety & Training Committee discussed several issues.
In the early 1990s, a skydiver reported that an automatic activation device saved his life. This jumper experienced a main parachute malfunction and pulled his cutaway handle but never pulled his reserve ripcord.
May 24-27, 88 elite formation skydivers from more than a dozen countries and a team of five in-air videographers (Niklas Daniel, George Katsoulis, John Lyman, Jim Stengell and David Wybenga) came together at Skydive Arizona in Eloy to participate in the 23rd annual Arizona Challenge and celebrate the 25th anniversary of world-renowned formation skydiving team Arizona Airspeed.
Many top world-class competitors had a difficult time at the 14th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Cup of Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing in Cordoba, Argentina, May 18-26, and the members of the U.S. Accuracy Team were no exception.
Hats off to Jim Crouch’s article “A Record Low—the 2018 Fatality Summary” (April Parachutist). Crouch’s article points out the significance of the fatality index rate being at its lowest ever in our sport: one in 254,000 jumps (or 0.39 per 100,000 jumps).
I don’t understand why you’re reversing the standard aviation placement of numerator and denominator, and I would urge you to adopt that standard.
I was a late starter when it came to skydiving. I began at age 37 in 1969 when several of my firefighter buddies and I were watching our 10-inch black-and-white TV in the station and saw a program about skydiving at Skylark Airport in Lake Elsinore, California. “What the heck,” we said.
Rich Grimm, D-18890, started skydiving in 1980. He has been a competitor and a DZO, but he’s best known for being the creator, facilitator and organizer of epic international boogies in exotic locations.
Each year for the past decade, the International Skydiving Museum has inducted a select few men and women who have “defined, promoted, inspired and advanced the sport at the highest levels” into its Hall of Fame. This year’s induction ceremony and banquet for the 10 newest honorees will take place during the 2019 International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame Celebration October 17-19 at Skydive Perris in California.
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.
I have been a USPA member since 1969. This month’s cover is the most dramatic photo I’ve seen. I did a double take when I pulled the magazine from my mailbox. Well done to stuntman Eric Salas!
Jim McCormick, D-12379, is a big-way and demo skydiver who has earned 15 world records (including the 400-way Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Record for Largest Formation Skydive) and jumped over the North Pole.
The Rolling Stones sang a popular song titled “Time is on My Side.” Obviously, Mick Jagger never had a high-speed malfunction. After receiving a letter from a concerned skydiver who witnessed an incident resulting from a low cutaway, the Safety and Training Committee discussed the hazards of one high-speed malfunction—spinning line twists—during the February 1-3 USPA Board meeting in Dallas, Texas.
In 2018, 13 people died during skydives in the U.S. This is the lowest annual fatality number since 1961, when USPA (then the Parachute Club of America) began keeping statistics. That year, 14 jumpers died, and the number of fatalities steadily increased for the next two decades before they began to drop in the early 1980s. Considering the increase in skydiving activity over the last 57 years, this is a phenomenal achievement.
One of the classic forms of formation skydiving competition is experiencing renewed popularity. Ten-way speed—in which 10 jumpers work to build a formation in the shortest time—is making a comeback. The DC-3 10-Way Speed Money Meet, hosted by Skydive Arizona in Eloy during the last weekend in December, is an indication of the new energy surrounding the discipline.
PRO-rated skydiver Mary Tortomasi of Bodyflyers.com recently organized a PRO-rating course at Skydive Elsinore, where seven participants had the privilege to learn from two of the most experienced demonstration jumpers in the world: Jim Wallace of 21st Century Skydiving and Rich Piccirilli of Just in Time Skydivers.