Gearing Up

Gearing Up - March 2017

EdScott

Reflecting on the association’s past year is like digging through your gear bag after a long, hectic skydiving season. The things you expect to see are there, interspersed with surprising items that somehow got thrown in. For USPA, 2016 was just that mixed bag. Let me inventory those items for you. more »

Gearing Up - February 2017

EdScott

This month's "Gearing Up" is written for just 22 of you. If 2017 is an average year in the U.S. accident-wise, some 22 of you won't be around to read this column in next February's Parachutist due to a skydiving accident. Let that sink in: 22 of you reading this will die making your last skydive. Odds are you're licensed (most likely a C or D license), have been skydiving for at least 10 years and have just at or over 1,000 jumps. (Don't think you're off the hook if you're not nearly that experienced, since these are averages; less-experienced skydivers will be among them.) Statistics also tell us that the circumstances of your demise will likely involve a hard landing, a mishandled main-parachute malfunction or a collision.

If you knew you were one of the 22, would you take five specific actions to remove yourself from the forlorn list? Of course you would. And you don't even have to quit skydiving. more »

Gearing Up - January 2017

EdScott

In 1984, the IRS classified USPA as a 501(c)4 non-profit association. That was based on its finding that USPA’s main purposes “promote the common good and social welfare.” Importantly, 501(c)4 organizations can lobby government officials as long as they meet all lobby registration and lobby reporting rules. And USPA does lobby on behalf of skydiving. What does that mean? Primarily, USPA’s executive director and director of government relations engage in efforts to build relationships with various officials, usually those in the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration but sometimes other federal and state agencies. more »

Gearing Up - December 2016

EdScott

Winter’s icy grip doesn’t stop all skydivers, but many do take a break until temperatures rise again. Whether you are jumping or not, you should plan to join hundreds of fellow skydivers, scores of riggers and dozens of parachute and component manufacturers at the February 10-18 series of events tied to the 2017 Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Chattanooga, Tennessee. more »

Gearing Up - November 2016

EdScott

Right up there with agricultural aviation, flying skydivers is one of the most demanding non-military aviation jobs. If the weather is good and manifest is busy, the jump pilot can count on working the entire day—sunrise to sunset—eating and hydrating in the airplane and getting few breaks. Load, taxi, takeoff, climb, level, descend, land, taxi and repeat. There is no en-route phase of flight where the pilot can kick back with cruise settings or engage an autopilot. more »

Gearing Up - October 2016

EdScott

Skydivers who enter USPA's instructional rating hierarchy by becoming a coach, instructor or examiner take on immense responsibility. But it is the USPA Examiner who assumes the highest responsibility, since he has the sole privilege of teaching and certifying others to be coaches and instructors.
An examiner's failure to fully meet his number-one duty—to fully teach and certify a skydive instructor—has a threefold effect: Instructors are inadequately prepared and can't be all they are expected to be. This leads to students who are not thoroughly trained or motivated, which decreases their safety levels and increases the chances that they'll quit out of frustration. And then the sport suffers a decrease in participants and a potential black eye from incidents or accidents that were preventable. more »

Gearing Up - September 2016

EdScott

A cloudless blue sky enveloped the entire Eastern Seaboard that early Tuesday morning 15 years ago. Shortly after 9 a.m., it would be scarred by dark, acrid smoke rising from New York City; Arlington, Virginia; and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A northerly wind blew smoke from the burning Pentagon over the townhouse offices of USPA in nearby Alexandria. The streets and highways were clogged with federal workers sent home for the day, so USPA staff members stayed in place and tried to work but more often were pulled to the TV news or searched the web for updates. more »

Gearing Up - August 2016

EdScott

As an association of some 38,000 adventure-seeking members, USPA will occasionally need to discipline an individual by suspending or revoking that person’s license, rating or membership. Section 1-6 of the USPA Governance Manual spells out the due process afforded members in these situations. It also lists the "seven deadly sins" that garner attention and possible discipline. more »

Gearing Up - July 2016

EdScott

July is the month when we reflect on our freedoms, but we should also reflect on the challenges and sacrifices those freedoms required. The July 4, 1776, signing of the Declaration of Independence did not actually make us independent; armed conflict began 15 months earlier at Concord and Lexington, and the resulting war lasted more than eight years. Many of the signers lost everything; some—along with 25,000 citizen-soldiers—lost their lives. Nearly the whole populace suffered hardship but prevailed and became a nation. more »

Gearing Up - June 2016

EdScott

Would you react to a skydiving situation if it would prevent another skydiver from incurring injury or death? That’s a rhetorical question, because of course you would. Each of us would. The skydiving community is like a large family in which we are all siblings—often closer—and we watch out for each other. Now let me rephrase the question: Would you initiate an action that could prevent a skydiver’s injury or death? See the difference? The first question implies a reaction to a specific situation. The second question asks you to take preemptive action. more »