Gearing Up

Gearing Up - September 2011

EdScott

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

JayStokes

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 »

Gearing Up - July 2011

EdScott

USPA and its predecessor organizations have always promoted skydiving competition. Then called the Parachute Club of America, USPA began conducting meets in the late ’50s and early ’60s, and the tradition continues today with the annual USPA Nationals and the USPA Collegiate Nationals. But to USPA staff and board members, “competition” means much more than an event. It’s the 205-page Skydiver’s Competition Manual (SCM) of rules and requirements that requires constant updating. more »

Gearing Up - June 2011

EdScott

The “Safety Check” column on page 62 of this issue reiterates the points contained in the “Action Call” that USPA e-mailed to all members for whom we have an e-mail address—28,000 of them—and every Group Member DZ. The Action Call arose from a conference call between USPA and a number of DZOs and canopy experts that took place after this year’s third fatal canopy collision in the U.S. (and 30 fatal U.S. canopy collisions that resulted in 37 fatalities in the previous five-year period). more »

Gearing Up - May 2011

EdScott

From now until July 7, USPA members have an opportunity to modernize the association’s by-laws. The board of directors has authorized a proxy effort to give members the chance to change the by-laws to 1) lengthen the term for all board members from two years to three years and 2) eliminate the requirement for a non-incumbent regional director candidate to provide a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the members in that region. If approved, the three-year term would take effect after the next board election, scheduled for fall 2012. The elimination of the petition requirement, if approved, would apply to the next election, so that no petitions would be required for the fall 2012 election. more »

Gearing Up - April 2011

EdScott

On March 31, Director of Competition Larry Bagley retired after nearly a lifetime of service to USPA. Almost 16 years ago, he accepted an invitation to come work at Headquarters as the association’s first director of government relations. It wasn’t a light decision, since he had to relocate his family some 2,095 miles to work in the Alexandria, Virginia, office. He also had to resign from the USPA Board mid-term, since a USPA employee can’t simultaneously serve on the board of directors. That couldn’t have been easy either; he had already served 20 years on the board, eight of them as president and two of them as chairman. more »

The President's Report - March 2011

JayStokes

Congratulations are in order for everyone involved in the use of online voting in the recent board election. Adoption and implementation of the new system was a long time coming, primarily due to the need to change USPA’s by-laws to accommodate online voting. Thinking that most of our members readily embrace innovation and new technology, we anticipated an increase in voting participation. Actually, the number of ballots cast was nearly double from previous years, which means that member involvement in the selection of the board has never been higher. All of us on the 2011-2012 USPA Board of Directors appreciate that involvement and look forward to working hard at rewarding it with the leadership you all expect and deserve. more »

Gearing Up - February 2011

EdScott

The year 2010 ended with 21 U.S. skydiving fatalities, 70 percent of which were canopy related (meaning the jumper successfully deployed a parachute but did not survive the landing). Earlier this year, USPA decided to gather industry experts for a Canopy Safety Summit (see page 23 for participants) and created a web page to solicit ideas and comments from all sources for consideration by the group. more »

Gearing Up - January 2011

EdScott

Age is just a number until put into context (ask any of the members of Skydivers Over Sixty). Organizations age too, and this year on July 10, USPA turns 65. That was the date in 1946 that the National Parachute Jumpers-Rigger, Inc., was incorporated in New York (though the organization had already existed for a number of years as the unincorporated National Parachute Jumper’s Association). By 1957, when the organization became the Parachute Club of America (PCA), there were 354 members, which quickly grew to 6,658 by 1962. By 1968, when PCA changed its name again—this time to the United States Parachute Association—membership was at 9,950. Today membership stands at 33,050, and no, we’re not contemplating a name change. more »

Gearing Up - December 2010

EdScott

September 16, 2008, will stand as a seminal date in skydiving. That was the date of a public hearing by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on its “Special Investigation Report on the Safety of Parachute Jump Operations.” The report catalogued a 27-year history of 32 fatal jump plane accidents, many due to faulty maintenance and poor pilot training and decision-making. In fact, the report noted three “recurring safety issues”: more »