Feature

Five Things to Ask Yourself Before Downsizing

It's a topic that nearly all skydivers face at some point in their skydiving careers: downsizing. And it's a discussion that the Performance Designs staff has had with numerous skydivers of all experience levels over the years. Now, with the majority of incidents in skydiving occurring under fully open (and fully functional) canopies, it’s that much more important to talk about when it is and is not appropriate to downsize. more »

Giving Back

The All Veteran Group—a skydiving team whose mission is to use the skills that members learned in the military (including in combat) to remember, honor and serve their fellow veterans—has had a busy spring filled with noteworthy jumps, including a jump with the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Primarily made up of former members of the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights, as well as patriot volunteers, AVG provides non-profit tandem skydives and other activities to service members, veterans and gold-star families (families of fallen service members) that are designed to bring a passion for life back into their hearts. The group also provides demonstration jumps to veterans’ charities and other national and international organizations. Mike Elliott, AVG’s president and founder, said, “I've seen a guy who's looking sad, and at the end of a jump he's smiling and high-fiving. To be able to give back is one of the biggest things." more »

Blue Skies or Gray

On iffy-weather days, you’ll see them sitting in folding chairs with icy beverages in hand exchanging knowing glances and wry smiles as much younger jumpers with untested immortality head to the plane. They’re the guys who say, as a thunderstorm advances, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.” They’re the one’s who’ve been there, done that and lived to tell about it. And every summer, without fail, they set up their chairs right before the stormy weather moves in, and they pull their jumpsuits back on right after the danger has passed. more »

Mental Health Counseling and Skydiving Trauma

What does it mean to risk one’s safety for a sport? Skydiving changes thousands of lives for the better, increases confidence, paves the way for self-discovery, creates spaces for goal setting and mastery of new abilities, and builds friendships and community. In many ways, the sport is life-giving and nourishing to those who find peace and happiness at 13,000 feet. Yet, skydiving can also take away physical freedom, safety and even life itself. To ignore the ways in which this sport can devastate would leave the jumping community even more vulnerable to tragedy on the day that something goes awry. more »

Covering All the Angles

Illustrations by Ada Márquez

In the past few years, many jumpers have become interested in angle flying, dynamic flying and tracking jumps, known collectively as horizontal jumps. And why not? For many people, experimenting with angles, speeds and body positions is what flying is all about. more »

Serious Business in Sin City

The USPA Board of Directors gathered for its winter meeting February 28-March 2 in Las Vegas. With the streets and casinos flooded with people and the craziness of Sin City filling the outside world, the board tucked itself away in the meeting rooms to get down to some serious business. more »

Handling the Media During a Crisis

On November 30, 63 amazing women smashed the former world record for largest head-down formation. Despite the story including beautiful women and amazing footage, the media presence was minimal. Four days later, the worst possible scenario occurred at the same DZ: a double fatality and a serious injury on one jump during a formation skydiving big-way event. Suddenly, the media was camped out in full force in the parking lot. more »

Identifying the Dangers - The 2013 Fatality Summary

We are in the safest decade of the sport: During the last 10 years, an average of just over 22 people died skydiving in the U.S. each year. In the 1960s—when USPA membership was about a third of what it is today—an average of 43 people died per year. more »

High and Fast: Understanding Density Altitude

How many of you have muttered, “Whoa, that was faster than I expected!” (or a more forceful, colorful variation) after blazing in for landing on a hot, humid summer’s day? Maybe you paused for a moment afterward to ponder why the landing was so much faster than anticipated, or maybe you just shrugged it off and blamed it on a gust of wind and then rushed to pack for the next load. Pondering the “why” is a worthwhile exercise, actually, because although a fast landing can be a rush if you know what you’re doing and are anticipating the speed, unexpectedly landing more quickly than normal can cause a bruised ego, broken bones or worse. And this is especially true for less-experienced skydivers. more »

Save the Date: March 8, 2014

It’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner, and it is time once again for USPA Safety Day! The event takes place each year on the second Saturday in March, but some drop zones will use an alternate date, and some will host the event at a location other than the DZ. Check with your local drop zone to make sure you show up at the correct time and in the right place! more »