The RSL: Separating Fact from Fiction

There is probably no other piece of skydiving equipment more misunderstood than the reserve static line (RSL). If you want 10 different opinions on why you should or should not equip your container with one, simply ask 10 different skydivers. Unfortunately, most jumpers choose their positions and make their decisions based on raw opinion and contrived scenarios rather than facts. To separate fact from fiction and make a truly informed decision on whether to use an RSL, we need to look at a little history and actual data. more »

The Story of the Miracle Eleven

photos courtesy of Skydive Superior LLC

The National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of this crash is ongoing and the agency has not yet determined the cause.

It was an idyllic Saturday for skydivers all over the Midwest. Every drop zone in the region was jumping all day in the unusually warm and sunny fall weather. Skydive Superior in Wisconsin took full advantage of that day’s unseasonable weather, flying load after load of smiling jumpers in its Cessna 182 and Cessna 185. As the sun was starting to set, the jumpers raced to get on the last load of the day. Little did they know that it could very well have been the very last of their lives. more »

Declassified: At the Drop Zone

The orange, brown and white canopy was snagged in the tall fir tree. Several feet down, a man wearing a black business suit was hanging in an NB-8 harness under tangled suspension lines. He struggled in the tree branches for a grip. His stockinged feet tried to get a solid footing on the branches … his slip-on loafers had blown off in freefall. Tied to his waist with nylon canopy lines was a belly-mounted-reserve container stuffed with 23 pounds of bundled $20 dollar bills. A total of $200,000. more »

Sharing the Joy


The Birth of Skydiving Photography

It took no small amount of nerve to begin skydiving in the 1950s, when the stable delay was still in its infancy and round canopies landed you less than gently. But what took real nerve back then was trying to capture skydiving on film while everyone was still learning how to skydive. Today, skydivers with GoPros record every imaginable frame of weekend geeking, uploading routine jumps to YouTube just minutes after landing; everyone seems to be a camera flyer. They have no idea how hard it was a half century ago. more »

Hard Openings

Chances are that any jumper reading this has either experienced a main canopy that opened hard or will at some point in the future. Although the definition of a hard opening is very subjective (what one person may consider a hard opening, another may call normal), it is actually possible for a parachute to open so hard that it can cause severe physical trauma or even death. The range of possible injuries is wide, from minor strains and pulled muscles to broken necks and backs to torn aortas. more »

Slim - The Little-Known Life of Charles Lindbergh

Mention the name of Charles Lindbergh in aviation circles, and to a lesser extent in skydiving, and you get instant recognition. He is perhaps the greatest and most well known aviator since the Wright Brothers. His historic flight in May 1927 as the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean made him a world-famous celebrity. Several years later, his infant son was abducted and killed, and the kidnapper was arrested, put on trial, found guilty and executed. This story was front-page news of gargantuan proportions. Fame also followed Lindbergh in the days prior to World War ll when he visited Germany and paid adulation to Hitler’s modern air force. And although he faced much negative publicity, his legend as an aviator continued, even to this day. more »

Steeped in History

The USPA Board of Directors last met in Fredericksburg, Virginia—the boyhood home of George Washington and the current home of USPA Headquarters—in 2006. Only seven of the current 22 members of the board were at that meeting, and most of the board members seated since then had never visited the 8,340-square-foot USPA building. The July 26–28 Fredericksburg meeting afforded these board members the opportunity to visit and meet all 15 members of USPA’s staff. more »

Operation X-Wing

Aquestion that every skydiver gets is, “Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?” A typical answer (after the “no such thing as a perfectly good airplane” discussion) is, “Well, it’s cheaper than therapy!” more »

When Less is More

Around the drop zone, you’ll hear jumpers referring to minimum-altitude-loss turns by a variety of names: flat turns, braked turns, elevation turns or depression turns. The intention behind making all these types of turns is the same, namely, to perform a necessary heading change with the smallest amount of altitude loss possible. Technically speaking, the aim is to achieve the primary effect of yaw (heading change) with minimal roll (bank) and pitch (nose-attitude) change, while controlling any resulting effect (surge). more »