Gearing Up

Gearing Up - January 2014


They were quickly dubbed the “Miracle Eleven”—the nine skydivers and two pilots who escaped virtually unscathed from a mid-air collision between two jump planes in formation over Superior, Wisconsin, in November. It is clear that providence was smiling on all 11 that day, with the nine skydivers landing under their main canopies, one pilot landing under his emergency rig’s round canopy and the other pilot landing his damaged plane on the runway. And no one on the ground was injured. more »

Gearing Up - December 2013


USPA has revised its “Beyond the First Jump” program, an effort to connect with first-jump customers and get them to consider coming back to the DZ and exploring skydiving beyond the first jump. USPA provides DZs with business cards to give to every first-jump customer. The card’s QR code links to a web-based, two-minute promotional video featuring skydivers inviting the customer to come back, while showing skydiving’s many disciplines and conveying the bond among skydivers. The web page provides links to first-person accounts from other skydivers describing their early jumps or how skydiving changed their lives. more »

Gearing Up - November 2013


Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration finally weighed in on a long-running battle for airport access that USPA supported. The FAA decided in favor of skydiving, which, together with its previous favorable decisions, strengthens its decades-old determination that skydiving is an aeronautical activity that has a right to be on airports that receive federal funds. more »

Gearing Up - October 2013


At its summer meeting, the USPA Board acted to change the Basic Safety Requirements by increasing the minimum deployment altitude for C- and D-license holders from 2,000 feet to 2,500 feet. The 2,000-foot container-opening-altitude minimum has been in place since 1966, a time when parachutes generally opened quickly. more »

Gearing Up - September 2013


Skydivers often ask how USPA adopts or changes its policies and rules. The answer starts with a description of USPA’s board of directors. USPA is very board-driven: The board determines the association’s policy positions and adopts and approves changes to the Skydiver’s Information Manual, including the Basic Safety Requirements. USPA’s board members are not figureheads who leave policy development to paid staff as is the case in many other organizations. more »

Gearing Up - August 2013


For many skydivers, Memorial Day will forevermore take on an additional meaning due to the deaths of four very well known skydivers over this year’s Memorial Day weekend. Each accident scenario fell into a different category with the only common thread being that all four jumpers were very experienced and very current. I’ll share the social media post that stuck with me: “If it can happen to any one of them, it can happen to any one of us.” We’re still gathering the facts surrounding each accident, and we’ll summarize those and any conclusions in Parachutist’s “Incident Reports” as the information becomes available. more »

Gearing Up - July 2013


USPA staff recently joined other aviation association representatives in a meeting with Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta to talk about how to improve the fatal-accident rate of general aviation (all but military and airline flights). Prior to the meeting, USPA compiled the statistics on jump-plane-accident fatalities over the past 20 years, revealing information that I shared with the administrator: more »

Gearing Up - June 2013


On April 10, President Obama presented his proposed 2014 budget to the U.S. Congress. Within the 227-page document is one paragraph describing a new $100-per-flight user fee for turbine aircraft (piston and public aircraft exempted) flying in controlled airspace (defined as airspace in which air traffic control services can be provided, such as Class E airspace that begins at either 700 or 1,200 feet above the surface for most of the U.S.). Aviation user fees have been proposed before, but never with enough detail to be able to conclude that turbine jump planes would pay $100 for each and every load flown. Could the administration seriously propose charging $2,500 or more per day per turbine jump plane? USPA posed that question the very next day in a letter mailed to the White House. So far, we’ve received no response. more »

The President's Report - May 2013


Change requires courage! It also requires persistence and passion, but mostly, it requires patience! That was one of the first lessons I learned while attending a USPA Board of Directors meeting, and it certainly remains true today. more »

Gearing Up - April 2013


For many decades, USPA has proudly touted the “self-regulated” nature of our sport, and for good reason. Generations of skydivers can be proud of the fact that USPA’s forefathers successfully pitched the concept of allowing the sport to institute safety standards, a skydiving licensing system and a means of certifying skydiving instructors to the Federal Aviation Administration (actually its predecessor agency) so it wouldn’t need to regulate skydiving safety. And that is exactly the picture today, though it was by no means a foregone conclusion. more »