The Rating Corner

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 »

Y-Modifications to Tandem Harnesses

United Parachute Technologies held a standardization meeting March 31 and April 1 in DeLand, Florida. The company invited all Tandem Instructor Examiners (regardless of which manufacturer’s rating they held), and approximately 50 attended, as well as representatives from Jump Shack, Precision Aerodynamics and Strong Enterprises. The meeting included numerous valuable presentations and discussions among some of the most experienced tandem examiners in the world. The group spent the most significant amount of time discussing harnesses, specifically the Y-modification (an additional section of strapping on the back of the harness) and whether it should be mandatory for all tandem student harnesses. During an informal poll, about 50 percent of the examiners felt that it should be. more »

DZ Accident Preparedness

Additional Video Content Inside!

Unfortunately, just about everyone in this sport has witnessed a skydiving accident that required urgent medical attention and an ambulance or helicopter ride to the nearest trauma center. Some drop zones have a very well-thought-out medical-emergency action plan that staff can follow, while others just sort of wing it. How prepared is your drop zone for an emergency, and what steps can you take to ensure a smooth, efficient and effective working relationship with local emergency medical responders? more »

Flight Planners

Coaches, instructors and drop zone owners are always trying to find ways to improve student training and save time during busy days at the drop zone. USPA provides a very inexpensive tool that accomplishes both of those things: the flight planner. more »

Common Tandem Harness Adjustment Errors

It may seem like common sense to say that a properly fitted tandem student harness is required for every tandem skydive. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, instructors get lazy, forgetful or both, and many tandem students end up with an unpleasant canopy ride or even an injury upon landing. Small errors in harness adjustment can cause big problems for the student. more »

Crossing the Line

Just as they would expect as a patron of any other business, skydiving students expect to show up at a drop zone and find a professional staff that treats each customer with courtesy and respect. Unfortunately, some skydiving instructors may not always behave that way, crossing a line that turns a student’s first-jump experience into an event that makes them feel frightened and vulnerable due to real or perceived sexual harassment. It is essential that skydiving instructors and coaches treat all students appropriately and professionally. more »