Gearing Up

Gearing Up - May 2012


The slow economy has hit state and local governments hard in recent years, and it’s no surprise that many have acted to address their budget woes by targeting business sectors with new tax initiatives. In the past couple of years, several states have begun imposing new sales-and-use or amusement taxes, collectively known as “transaction taxes,” on skydiving business owners. Several DZs were forced to pay back taxes and interest totaling thousands of dollars, which in some cases threatened the DZs’ continued viability and in all cases increased the cost of skydiving. When DZs began asking for assistance, USPA—helped by several DZOs and their tax attorneys—carefully researched the applicability of state and local taxes to aviation businesses. more »

Gearing Up - April 2012


Most associations don’t have a board of directors as active as USPA’s is. Many other boards have perfunctory meetings where they rubber-stamp decisions and policies driven by the staff. This is not so for USPA, whose board has marathon working meetings where they get hands-on: discussing issues, setting policy and making decisions that guide the future of the sport and the organization. It is precisely for this reason that the board election process is so important for USPA members. more »

Gearing Up - March 2012


As I write this, we’ve just closed the books and run the numbers on 2011. Notwithstanding the sputtering economy, USPA continues in good shape. Membership activity remained high in 2011, with respectable numbers of skydivers joining, renewing and earning licenses and ratings. We ended the year with the highest total membership count—33,515—in nine years, 3,027 more than the recent low point in late 2005. Some 5,959 new skydivers joined USPA in 2011, and we issued 5,944 licenses—the most since 2003. more »

Gearing Up - February 2012


Just as no skydiver would board an aircraft knowing the pilot is under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, then by the same standard, no skydiving student or novice should be entrusted to a coach or instructor who is similarly impaired. All of skydiving's working professionals—the thousands of coaches and instructors working with students each day at drop zones across the country—must agree that chemical or alcohol impairment while skydiving is not an option. more »

The President's Report - January 2012


Imagine your last living thought being, “That was stupid of me.” Imagine your friends after your death, dressed in black, tears filling their eyes, saying, “If only,” over and over again. Imagine your family going on without you, with a wound in their hearts that will never heal. more »

Gearing Up - December 2011


USPA just received the National Transportation Safety Board’s final response on USPA’s initiatives to address the safety board’s concerns about jump-plane inspection and maintenance issues. The safety board was clearly pleased with USPA’s efforts to both educate operators about inspection and maintenance requirements, as well as our effort to verify each jump plane’s inspection method. The safety board closed the recommendation and classified it with a rare “Exceeds Recommended Action.” USPA’s board and our Group Member operators should be proud of taking decisive industry action to address the safety board’s concerns. And skydivers of every level can have greater confidence that the jump planes at Group Member DZs are meeting FAA inspection and maintenance requirements. more »

Gearing Up - November 2011


One of the few constants in life is change. I fell in love with skydiving when I took that first step into freefall 13 years ago. It changed my life forever. I was hooked on the sport, working manifest on the weekends to pay for AFF. After increasing jump numbers and gaining experience, I became a USPA coach, then a videographer. But I wanted more from the sport. So, in 2002, when the opportunity to join the USPA staff presented itself, working in my field of communications, I eagerly accepted. My passion became my career and essentially my life. Now, here I am, nine years later, moving on from what I truly believe is the best job in the world. Why? Because change is good. more »

Gearing Up - October 2011


Until recently, skydiving’s medal-winning competitors received accolades within the pages of Parachutist and from friends and family but earned little other attention. Two years ago, USPA initiated a campaign to notify local and regional hometown media—including newspapers, radio and TV—that their hometown man or woman was a national champion, or in the case of world meets, an international champion. The effort was an astounding success, creating local celebrities and generating countless pages, video and airtime of positive skydiving coverage. The medalist’s DZ often gained positive media attention, too. more »

Gearing Up - September 2011


That Tuesday 10 years ago started memorably as a clear, blue-sky morning. Suddenly, there were news reports of a tragic airplane accident, which soon proved to be no accident at all. Some of the windows of USPA’s offices, then located in Alexandria, Virginia, faced north, and before long, smoke from the Pentagon obscured the sky. Throughout the day, it was hard to sort news from rumor. In nearby D.C., there were wild reports of car bombings, bomb threats, more inbound jets, and before long, the Alexandria streets that led out of the city were jammed. Before the day ended, all civil aviation, including skydiving, was grounded, with no indication of when things would get back to normal. In fact, no one knew what the new normal would be. At home that night, I took my 9-year-old son outside. Our house was near a busy general aviation airport and beneath arrival paths into both Baltimore and Washington commercial airports, and there were always airplanes overhead. Not that night. Only the sounds of the combat air patrol were heard. more »

The President's Report - August 2011


The invitation to visit the Australian Parachute Federation (APF) brought with it the daunting promise of a 20-hour, 7,200-mile-long plane ride. And I travel coach, of course. But the prospect of being a guest speaker at the 2011 APF Conference weighed positively on the scales, so off I went with my wife, Vivian. Australia greeted us with warm temperatures, bright blue skies and very friendly people. The site selected for the conference was near the Great Barrier Reef and offered spectacular views of some of the most beautiful parts of the planet Earth. more »