Gearing Up

Gearing Up - February 2016

EdScott

Parachutist’s print schedule has me writing this just after the close of 2015, a perfect time to reflect on USPA’s accomplishments and challenges during the past year. There were lots of both. In July, USPA reached its highest membership number ever—38,305—quite an improvement from the low of 30,488 that came in the midst of the five-year downturn following the September 11 attacks in 2001. However, membership activity slowed in 2015; the exact numbers are pending, but the number of new memberships, licenses and ratings did not exceed the previous year’s numbers as they have each year since 2006. The number of Group Member drop zones remained high at 230, with 18 new DZs replacing an equal number that closed or merged. more »

Gearing Up - January 2016

EdScott

USPA’s predecessor organization, the National Parachute Jumpers and Riggers Association, formed in 1946. The association became the Parachute Club of America in 1957 and changed its name to the U.S. Parachute Association in 1968. (For simplicity, I’ll refer to all of them as USPA.) In the early years, USPA’s board attracted several military men who had served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Most prominent among them were Major General John Singlaub, whom USPA recognized last year with an honorary lifetime membership, and Lt. General James “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin, who passed away in 1990 at age 82. more »

Gearing Up - December 2015

EdScottNationals and the U.S. Team

Annually, USPA uses its national championships to determine the makeup of the U.S. Parachute Team. With the growth in the number of skydiving disciplines, the U.S. Team can now exceed 60 members, all of whom must largely pay their own way to world championships. Even though the donor-supported Team Trust Fund now exceeds $1.4 million, by law USPA can allocate only the earned interest to the team. And even though that can total up to $60,000, it only covers the registration fees of the team members, which still leaves them with training, gear and international travel costs. USPA could provide more support, but to do so member dues would have to increase, since revenues from today’s renewal fee of $55 largely fund current operations. more »

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

EdScott

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

EdScott

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

EdScott

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

EdScott

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

EdScott

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

EdScott

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 »