Gearing Up

Gearing Up - November 2015

EdScott These “Gearing Up” commentaries are usually positive, which isn’t all that difficult because there are so many good things happening with skydiving. We have a growing USPA membership, a thriving Sisters in Skydiving program, an increase in skydiving record jumps, more DZs opening, fewer canopy-related accidents occurring and a declining fatal-accident rate. more »

Gearing Up - October 2015


This issue of Parachutist contains a ballot for you to elect the members of USPA’s board of directors, who will serve a three-year term starting in February. Beginning October 1, if you have an email address on file with USPA (as most members do), you will also receive an electronic ballot that will allow you to vote securely online in just minutes. If past elections are an indicator, more of you won’t vote than will. Here is why that should change and why you should vote. more »

Gearing Up - September 2015


The vision of a national skydiving museum that would collect, archive and showcase skydiving’s unique history began with William H. “Bill” Ottley. Bill served three separate terms on USPA’s board from the mid-1960s through the late-1970s, and then served as USPA’s executive director from 1978-1992. In 1972, Ottley filed corporate documents and had what was then called the American Museum of Sport Parachuting and Air Safety (changed in 2005 to the National Skydiving Museum) incorporated as a charitable organization. From the start, the museum—which has its own, separate board of trustees—has been distinct from USPA. more »

Gearing Up - August 2015


Over the past decade, USPA has joined all other general aviation associations in fighting recurring proposals to fund the nation’s air traffic control system—a government-provided service—with user fees instead of the current system of federal fuel taxes. The reason the general aviation community doesn’t want a change is simple: The current system works. GA users, including jump operators, pay for the system through federal taxes on aviation fuel, currently 21.8 cents per gallon for jet fuel and 19.3 cents per gallon for avgas. Users who fly more, and presumably use the ATC system more, pay more. A Cessna operator who flies 10 loads on a Saturday will pay $12 at the pump in federal tax on avgas. A Twin Otter operator who flies 20 loads will pay about $100 in federal tax on jet fuel. A fuel tax is easy to calculate, easy to pay and easy to collect. Conversely, a user fee almost certainly would involve an invoicing and payment process that requires a whole new bureaucracy. more »

Gearing Up - July 2015


One way USPA engages in its mission of “supporting safe skydiving and those who enjoy it” is through a very active government relations effort aimed at removing obstacles to drop zone establishment and reducing government burden on established DZs. Usually these efforts take the form of advocating against restrictive regulations (whether local, state or federal) or challenging arbitrary decisions by government employees that unfairly try to deny skydivers the use of airports and airspace. But occasionally overzealous tax agents see busy DZs and think that government deserves a place at the banquet table, and USPA has to act to keep them away. more »

Gearing Up - June 2015


Some longtime members may have begun to wonder if they somehow missed a recent election of USPA board members. They didn’t. An election is scheduled for this fall, and for those interested in running for the board, the process begins now. Anyone who has been a USPA member in good standing for two years and who is at least 18 years old as of August 1 can submit the required materials described below to qualify as a candidate. more »

Gearing Up - May 2015


In a stunning display of engagement with USPA’s governance process, members of the Gulf Region flooded USPA’s inbox with their comments and suggestions concerning who should become their new USPA Regional Director and thus the newest member of the USPA Board of Directors. The opportunity arose when Todd Spillers recently announced his need to resign his position due to a career opportunity. more »

Gearing Up - April 2015


First held in 1957, the USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships is the longest-running skydiving competition in the world. And yet it is in serious decline. From 92 college-enrolled skydivers at the 2010 Collegiates, registration has dropped each succeeding year. Only 65 competitors attended the 2014 Collegiates, and only 16 of them were not from a military academy. The military academies are actually a bright spot for Collegiates, with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy contributing the majority of competitors. But without action to increase the number of non-academy competitors, USPA’s Collegiates could eventually become an academy-only competition, which the academies could probably run themselves. more »

Gearing Up - March 2015


Unless you’re a skydiver living under a pile of pea gravel, you know that March 14 is USPA Safety Day. Since 1997, thanks to a suggestion by member Patti Chernis, USPA has dedicated a day—the second Saturday in March—to skydiving safety. (Although many DZs designate another day that suits them better.) I also like the mantra, “Every day is Safety Day,” because we should have a safety mindset on every jump. The whole idea is to always be prepared. For anything. more »

Gearing Up - February 2015


An association is formed to serve a purpose, and it thrives by fulfilling that purpose. USPA was formed in 1946 to advance the sport of skydiving by developing safety standards, removing governmental barriers and promoting competition. In a phrase coined by Executive Director Emeritus Chris Needels, USPA exists to “support safe skydiving and those who enjoy it.” more »