Learning to back-fly is often the first step a jumper takes when learning to freefly, whether in the air or wind tunnel. The back-flying position offers incredible versatility in flying speeds and gives a jumper the ability to fly with anyone from belly to head-down flyers. This versatility also makes it an excellent recovery position when learning to fly in positions such as the sit, stand or head down, since the flyer is able to “fall off” the position without rapid deceleration (called “corking”), which is hazardous to others nearby and must be avoided. more »

A Jump for the Ages


In a sport defined by superlatives and firsts, it is rare that a jump deserves the title “historic.” In fact, there may be only a few that deserve the distinction. One such jump is certainly the long, lonely leap Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger made on August 16, 1960, from an open gondola suspended under a helium balloon 102,800 feet above sea level. Another—the spectacularly public Red Bull Stratos jump that Austrian Felix Baumgartner made from 128,100 feet above sea level near Roswell, New Mexico, on October 14—occurred 52 years later. more »

Starting a Tradition: The First 8-Woman Star

The year 1969 was a happy time to be skydiving. Relative work (now called formation skydiving) was uniting the men and women of the sport as they had never united before. Jumpers were frolicking in the sky, at times laughing out loud in freefall from the ultimate joy of flying free—together! Everything was new. more »

On the Line: Succeeding in 4-Way

Part 6 of 6—Putting It All Together

Committing to a 4-way team requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. Unfortunately, many teams begin their training thinking that if they jump a lot they will advance quickly. This is not the case. Making a lot of jumps without a clear training plan will frequently result in a team feeling like it is just spinning its wheels. The members are putting in the effort but not seeing results. The team may advance in bits and pieces, but the pieces don’t fit together, and the points don’t add up. more »

On the Line: Succeeding in 4-Way

Part 5 of 6—Jump Preparation (Dirt Diving) and Debriefing

During jump preparation, a team should repeatedly practice team communication skills and personal flying skills, habits and discipline. It is during this process that a team has the best opportunity to develop and train the correct behavior so that it becomes almost instinctual. For this reason, it is crucial for the team to perform each skill correctly every time. If the members are complacent about this, the team will inevitably perform the skills incorrectly as many times as it does correctly and will have ingrained the wrong behaviors. The team will be repeating the exercises either way, so be sure to do them right. more »

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Tales from Skydiving in the '60s: Part II

Gear, attitudes and disciplines have evolved over the years. “We are experiencing an entirely different skydiving mentality today than was present during the last part of the 20th century,” says USPA lifetime member Charles Baldauf, D-3307. more »

The USPA Board of Directors Summer Meeting 2012

The USPA Board of Directors traveled to the North Central region for its 2012 summer meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 3-5. As a prelude to the weekend, North Central Regional Director Merriah Eakins invited the board and USPA staff to Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wisconsin, the Thursday before the meeting. Board and staff members enjoyed a day of fun jumps, a barbecue dinner courtesy of the DZ and the opportunity to meet USPA members in the region. It was a great way to get in the skydiving spirit before spending the next three days getting down to business, addressing a wide array of issues important to the skydiving community. more »

Taking The Long Way Home

If you’re interested in organizing a cross-country jump at your DZ, there are several steps you’ll need to take to make it a success. A good organizer delegates—and getting help with some of the chores will make a big difference—but you should still plan on one to two hours of ground prep for working out the details with manifest, the pilot and your fellow jumpers. more »

On the Line: Succeeding in 4-Way

Part 4 of 6—Block Training with Stage Drills

When training to improve your team’s block formations, it’s important for the members to understand what the technically perfect move is for each. Understanding it is fairly simple. However, even the best teams whose members have thousands of jumps together don’t perform the blocks perfectly every time. But by understanding the blocks, your team can execute them well, even if they are less than technically perfect. more »

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Tales from Skydiving in the '60s: Part I

Do you think you have it bad, having to constantly reassure coworkers who know you’re a skydiver? Or answering the same questions over and over again to friends and family who don’t really understand what skydivers actually do? Imagine what it was like in the 1960s, when skydiving was a new sport. Today, almost every other stranger we run into has made at least one jump or knows someone who has. Parachutists back then—there were only about 4,000 to 8,000 in the entire country—really had some explaining to do. more »