The Rating Corner

Flag-Jump Safety

Demo jumps are some of the most rewarding skydives a person can make. Due to the sizes and locations of landing areas, most demos require the jumpers to hold USPA PRO Ratings. This rating requires a jumper to demonstrate landing accuracy on 10 pre-declared jumps, receive training for flag and smoke jumps, serve as a ground crew member, learn about crowd control and understand how to work with the Federal Aviation Administration on demo-jump authorizations. USPA designed this training to help ensure that jumpers perform demos safely. more »

Preparing for the Coach Course

The USPA Coach Course is USPA’s entry-level instructional course, but in many ways it is more difficult than any of the other instructional rating courses. Much of this is because:

  • Most candidates are new to teaching anything, much less skydiving skills.
  • The evaluation process is a new experience, and it can be intimidating.
  • Many candidates approach the rating with a casual attitude and arrive to the course underprepared.

Maybe Confucius was thinking of the USPA Coach Course when he said, “Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” more »

New SIM and IRM

USPA has just released the latest versions of the Skydiver’s Information Manual and Instructional Rating Manual. As in past years, the manuals have a two-year production cycle, which means they are valid for rating courses in 2016 and 2017. Examiners and candidates at any USPA Rating Course that takes place following the release of the manuals must use the new versions. This will eliminate confusion caused by course candidates or examiners using different manuals, especially in coach and tandem courses, since the new manuals contain many changes for those training methods. more »

New S&TA Requirement

As a USPA Safety and Training Advisor, your role on the drop zone encompasses a wide range of responsibilities, from administrative tasks (such as administering license tests) to more technical duties (such as providing guidance for safety-related matters) and everything in between. The S&TA is the go-to person on the drop zone when it comes to all matters involving safety and training. However, until recently, there was never any process for training or testing S&TAs. A drop zone owner would contact the regional director and ask to have Joe Skydiver appointed an S&TA for the drop zone and, poof! An S&TA was born! But this is now changing. By March 1, 2016, all current S&TAs will need to complete an online training module to remain an S&TA, and all new S&TAs must complete it before receiving the appointment. more »

Oddball Requests

Tandem skydiving is now a relatively common activity, with more than a half-million tandem jumps conducted safely each year in the U.S. It is easy for tandem instructors to get bored, and first-time jumpers will sometimes ask for something unusual for their jumps, which is a recipe for trouble. Take one bored tandem instructor, add an unsuspecting tandem student with a request for something out of the ordinary and turn the blender up high. What could possibly go wrong? more »

Tandem Students With Special Needs

As the saying goes in the tandem industry, “A tandem is not just another skydive.” For those in the tandem field, this familiar statement serves as a reminder that tandem skydiving is a technical and specialized type of jump. When you add a student with special needs into the mix, the technical and specialized aspects of tandem skydiving go through the roof. While it is rewarding for both the student and the instructor to make these types of jumps, it is critical that the instructor individually assess each student and determine realistically whether the jump can be completed safely. more »

Defining Goals

After each training jump, a coach or instructor has to determine whether a student succeeded and is ready to advance to the next stage of training or must repeat the jump. Some student programs incorporate a complex series of maneuvers into each jump in an effort to offer a shorter training progression. This is attractive to prospective students, since they put a lot of time, money and effort into learning to skydive. However, students can easily become overloaded when they have too many objectives to accomplish on each jump, which sets them up for failure and costs them more money in the long run. more »

Accident Reports

One of a USPA Safety and Training Advisor’s most important responsibilities is to investigate accidents and submit reports on them to USPA Headquarters. According to data gathered from membership-renewal forms, USPA members sustained 729 injuries that required medical attention in 2014, but USPA received just a handful of non-fatal accident reports from S&TAs. This low ratio of accident reports to injuries is true for other years, as well. Additionally, USPA rarely receives reports of close calls that didn’t lead to injuries, although those could also teach valuable lessons to jumpers. Each year, plenty of close calls and injuries occur, but their valuable and potentially life-saving lessons are lost because nobody hears about them. more »

Tandem Gear Checks

There is probably no more important task before each jump than conducting a basic gear check. This is doubly true of a tandem skydive, where two lives are at stake. You’d think that all tandem instructors would perform thorough gear checks as part of their pre-jump procedures for every skydive. After all, this is something they all learned—or should have learned—during the tandem instructor certification course. Unfortunately, instructors do not always do so, and this neglect occasionally results in an equipment-related emergency. more »

New Tandem BSRs

At its March 27-29 meeting in Daytona Beach, Florida, the USPA Board of Directors approved two important Basic Safety Requirements relating to tandem skydiving: more »