Gearing Up

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 »

Gearing Up - November 2010

EdScott

On the morning of February 11 in Reno, Nevada, a gavel will drop and bring to order the newly elected 22-member USPA Board of Directors for 2011-2012. That same day, the board members will elect their (and our) Executive Committee, comprised of the USPA President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Chairman and Member at Large. Then, the president will appoint chairmen for the seven standing committees listed in the by-laws, and the committee chairs will select up to six board members to serve on each of their committees. With that, the new board will get down to business. more »

Gearing Up - October 2010

EdScott

Once the facts emerge after a fatality, USPA catalogues it into one of several categories for record-keeping purposes. The canopy-related category is a broad one that includes accidents involving low turns (both intentional and unintentional), botched landings, canopy formation entanglements and canopy collisions—basically, any accident that occurs after a jumper deploys a fully functional parachute. more »

Gearing Up - September 2010

EdScott

Among the myriad responsibilities shared by USPA Instructors, Coaches and Safety & Training Advisors, and DZ operators and staff, the most important involve the training and supervision of student skydivers. DZ personnel apply detailed instruction and rigorous oversight beginning with the first jump and continuing through achievement of the USPA A license, at which point a skydiver is no longer considered a student. For students, each jump introduces new concepts, learning objectives and techniques, always amid ever-changing wind and weather conditions. Distractions are many and continuous. more »

Gearing Up - August 2010

EdScott

Over the past few years, USPA has been working to increase the association’s membership count. Our efforts appear to be paying off with a steady increase in both first-jump and membership numbers, thanks to a very active two-pronged strategy: encouraging positive media coverage of skydiving, which we label “promotion,” and encouraging those who have made their first jumps to continue in the sport, which we call “retention.” It makes little sense for USPA to market itself to the non-skydiving public; if you’re not a skydiver, then USPA has little to offer. So instead, our goals are to promote skydiving itself and to increase retention of those who have tried it. more »

Gearing Up - July 2010

EdScott

Now that we are well into the 2010 skydiving season, we can report on a USPA initiative that is a success on a couple of different levels. In late 2008, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a special report that looked at 32 fatal jump-plane accidents over the previous 28 years. The NTSB concluded that many DZs and jump-plane operators were not performing required aircraft maintenance, so it issued a couple of recommendations to the FAA and USPA to do something about it. (The NTSB also recognized that there are many operators who perform exemplary maintenance.) While the NTSB has no regulatory authority, it can (and often does) capture the attention of Congress and the media by holding hearings and press conferences when its recommendations are ignored. In order to be proactive, USPA’s board of directors directed staff to develop a workable plan to comply with the NTSB’s recommendations. more »