Gearing Up

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 »

Gearing Up - March 2013


Having spent the weeks of January closing the books on 2012, here are some metrics from USPA’s various departments and programs. We ended December with 34,800 members, down only 28 from November, when we set a membership record of 34,828. (The previous high of 34,322 was in August 2001, just before a six-year decline.) Membership grew in 10 of the months of 2012, setting a growth rate of 3.95 percent. We brought in 6,763 new members, the most since 2001, and issued 6,524 licenses, up from 5,944 the previous year. The number of A licenses also increased, from 2,477 in 2011 to 3,420 in 2012, and ratings increased from 1,669 to 1,954. more »

Gearing Up - February 2013


The early 1970s were pivotal years for competitive skydiving, with formation skydiving just beginning to supplant style and accuracy as the primary competitive discipline. What we now call 4-way formation skydiving (then called 4-man relative work) made its first appearance at the U.S. National Championships in 1970. Ten- and 8-way competitions quickly followed 4-way. The First World Parachuting Championships in Relative Work occurred in Germany in 1975. By the time William H. Ottley (WHO or Bill to his friends) became USPA’s executive director in 1978, 4- and 8-way formation skydiving were the premier competitive disciplines. more »

Gearing Up - January 2013


January is customarily the time to resolve to take up new habits or abandon old ones, presumably to improve your life or at least your outlook. Many of us know we have some fairly serious issues to address, whether it’s finally scheduling that physical exam we’ve put off, working to improve our relationships, getting more exercise, setting and sticking with a budget, quitting smoking, etc. With resolutions, it isn’t the thought that counts, it’s the follow-through. more »