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 »

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 »