The Rating Corner

Treating Tandem Students Like Students

For a tandem instructor, the day can get pretty busy (and even a little monotonous) when there are lots of students waiting to jump. However, the key word here is “student.” Each person gets to have only one first skydive, and the focus of that skydive must be the student’s experience, from start to finish. Tandem skydiving is a student training discipline, with Federal Aviation Administration requirements that instructors must meet with every student. Federal Aviation Regulation 105.45 states the following: more »

New Instructors

Earning an instructional rating in any discipline is always a great accomplishment. A jumper who proves that he has the teaching ability and air skills necessary to pass the certification course and work with students has already exhibited hard work and commitment. However, the jumper should really consider achieving the rating as just the starting point. more »

Putting Yourself in Their Shoes

Most coaches and instructors jump small canopies and fly their canopies at much higher wing loadings than their students do. If the last time you jumped a student canopy was when you were actually a student, maybe it is time for you to grab a student rig and make a few jumps. Getting back in the air with a canopy your students are actually jumping will improve how well you teach canopy flight. It can be a truly enlightening experience, especially if it has been years since you jumped a larger canopy. more »

Full Supervision

Coaches and instructors are responsible for supervising students throughout the entire training process, skydive and debrief. While USPA’s certification courses simulate and evaluate these skills pretty well, much of the focus is often on ground training and freefall skills. Of course, the courses can’t cover every possible scenario and can only place strong emphasis on so many items, but we shouldn’t forget that one of our most essential responsibilities as rating holders is to make sure our students remain out of harm’s way while on the ground. This can be a bigger challenge than you might think. more »

Currency Training

As coaches and instructors, you spend most of your time training and jumping with students who are making their first jumps or working toward earning USPA A licenses. But another duty that falls on instructional rating holders involves retraining jumpers who are getting back in the air after layoffs. Doug Garr approaches the subject from the jumper’s point of view in “Dropping In After Dropping Out”, but the instructors also need to give these jumps a lot of thought. more »

Losing That Edge

Almost every drop zone has one: the crusty, weathered instructor who is older than dirt and started skydiving 25 years before any of the other staff members were even born. A wealth of history and knowledge lives within these longtime jumpers, and we can all learn a lot from them... usually. In a perfect world, students and new jumpers would benefit from this knowledge, as well as the exceptional teaching and aerial skills, of those who have been around for decades. But, what do you do when it seems that your DZ dinosaur is losing his edge? more »

Changes to Licenses and Ratings Rules

USPA has adopted new guidelines that will take effect in 2013 regarding the USPA A license, as well as which licenses will be accepted for USPA instructional ratings. The USPA Board of Directors approved the changes during its summer board meeting in Minneapolis. more »

Fandango Part Two?

Any jumper who watches the skydiving sequence in the movie “Fandango” howls out loud as instructor Truman Sparks puts his student through the paces in preparation for a static-line jump. The movie was released in 1985, but it was set in the year 1971, and perhaps we find it so funny because in many ways it was a pretty good (albeit exaggerated) representation of a first jump in that era. Search YouTube for “Fandango skydiving scene,” and you’ll find the skydiving sequence split into three different videos. more »

Safe Piloting

Very few coaches and instructors are also airplane pilots, but we still need to learn about the proper operation of the machines that take us to altitude. After all, we spend a lot more time riding in aircraft than we spend in freefall or under canopy. As rating holders, we play an important role in ensuring that the drop zone is operating as safely as possible, and that should include the jump planes and how they are flown. more »

By the Book

The USPA Board of Directors has taken steps over the years to improve the quality of rating courses conducted around the world. With the development of the Instructor Examiner Rating Course and the restructuring of the examiner rating system several years ago, the final phase of revamping the USPA rating system concluded. However, one piece was missing. Many of the coach examiners were grandfathered into the system and never received any training on course facilitation and evaluation standards. more »