Gearing Up

Gearing Up - October 2012


When I became USPA’s Executive Director nearly five years ago, one of my first calls was to Parachute Industry Association President Cliff Schmucker. The relationship between our two associations needed to be reinvigorated. USPA soon became an affiliate PIA member, and the partnership improved dramatically. It couldn’t have happened at a better time, considering the issues facing our sport. more »

Gearing Up - September 2012


This column nearly always focuses on one topic. This time there are two. more »

Gearing Up - August 2012


Like every aviation association, USPA develops working relationships with many Federal Aviation Administration officials, not only at FAA Headquarters but also in district and field offices. Open and frequent communication is vital to balancing federal interest in—and regulation of—skydiving. Sometimes, we want the FAA’s attention, as when the agency needs to tell a local airport operator that it is unfairly denying a skydiving business access to the airport. Other times, we need to convince the FAA that additional regulation is unnecessary or unworkable. more »

Gearing Up - July 2012


From USPA’s inception, one of its primary responsibilities continues to be improving safety through skydiver education. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to analyze every incident and accident, assess the causal factors and disseminate the information to the skydiver community. Training techniques, emergency procedures and equipment have improved over the years because of what we have learned from incident reporting. more »

Gearing Up - June 2012


Within a few weeks, the results of the USPA Canopy Piloting National Championships held at Skydive the Farm in Rockmart, Georgia, will determine the members of the U.S. Canopy Piloting Team. Those eight CP competitors will join their counterparts from other skydiving disciplines to make up the 60-plus-member U.S. Team that will go to the 2012 Mondial (all events) World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, November 29 to December 9. While a huge honor for each competitor, each must still finance the majority of the trip’s $3,000 cost. “But what about the Team Trust Fund?” you say. Actually, this year it is making the largest disbursement in its history, paying the $1,000 entry fee for each competitor. Still, our U.S. Team deserves more support. more »

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 »