Gearing Up

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 »

Gearing Up - July 2011


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


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


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 »