The Rating Corner

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 »

Instructional Rating Renewal Seminars

Each year, USPA requires all instructional rating holders (which includes USPA Coaches, as well as Instructors) to participate in a Rating Renewal Seminar. The Skydiver’s Information Manual describes this as “a meeting of USPA instructional rating holders to exchange information, introduce and discuss new ideas, and to develop, improve or assure the quality of skydiving instruction.” more »

Utilizing SkydiveSchool.org as an Online Resource

USPA Instructors and Coaches are busy keeping our sport replenished, vibrant and growing at drop zones around the world, and the demand on their time is heavy. Drop zones can help their teams keep the quality of instruction high, minimize burnout, reduce liability, provide consistent curriculums and capitalize on new student enthusiasm, all without spending additional money, by using the website skydiveschool.org. more »

Canopy-Control Footage

For many students, video demonstrations of what they need to accomplish during their skydives are very helpful. Until now, there have been plenty of video demonstrations of various freefall maneuvers, such as turns or back flips, but very little canopy-control footage. more »

Packing and Gear Checks for Tandem Safety

The importance of a thorough gear check before every skydive is simple common sense, but in the world of tandem, it is doubly important. Tandem students rely on their instructors to guide them through their jumps with as little risk as possible. Just as competent aircraft pilots perform thorough pre-flights of their planes to ensure they are ready for flight, tandem instructors must perform thorough pre-flights of their tandem equipment. more »

Altimeters for Tandem Students

There are plenty of student training topics that always generate lively debate. One subject that always seems to generate two very different views is whether to equip tandem students with altimeters. Camp A says that each tandem student must be provided with his own altimeter and be trained to use it. Camp B says that the instructor’s altimeter meets the USPA Basic Safety Requirement that states each student must be equipped with a visually accessible altimeter, and that it is not necessary to equip a tandem student with his own. more »

IERC Requirement for Coach Examiners

Last year, the USPA Board of Directors passed a motion that all USPA Coach Examiners who have not attended the USPA Instructor Examiner Rating Course (IERC) or Advanced Instructor Course (the precursor to the IERC) must complete an IERC by July 1, 2012. This motion came after a great deal of discussion regarding the USPA Coach Course and the quality of coach candidates who are receiving ratings. Critics argue that many new coaches should have stronger teaching and in-air skills and that the 100-jump requirement to attend the course does not provide a jumper with enough experience to deserve the rating. more »

What One DZ's Accidents Say About Us All

Skydive Arizona, one of the world’s busiest drop zones, has tracked its fatalities, injuries and incidents for the past 20 years. The figures have recently been compiled into a comprehensive report, “Learning From the Mistakes of Others: Skydive Arizona Accident Review, 1991 to 2011.” Remarkably, just plain bad luck accounted for less than 5 percent of all incidents—meaning 95 percent of the accidents were preventable. In addition, 75 percent of the skydiving fatalities did not involve any equipment malfunctions (which closely parallels national and international statistics). Furthermore, visiting jumpers were slightly greater than five times more likely to die in a skydiving accident than Skydive Arizona locals. What do these numbers tell us about how to make people safer skydivers? more »

Ground Controllers

It’s common to see one or more jumpers on just about any load having difficulty flying their parachutes in a way that promotes a smooth flow of canopy traffic. Whether it is someone who unintentionally flies an incorrect pattern or a arrogant jumper with no judgment whatsoever who insists on making a 270-degree turn through traffic because he thinks his “mad skillz” make him an awesome canopy pilot, many skydivers could use additional guidance about canopy descents. more »

Tandem Commandments

Last February at the Parachute Industry Association Symposium, representatives from all three U.S. tandem manufacturers (Nancy LaRiviere of Jump Shack, Bill Morrissey of Strong Enterprises and Mark Procos from United Parachute Technologies) and Frank Carreras from Germany (a tandem examiner who is rated for all U.S. and European tandem systems) joined together to give a presentation entitled, “The 19 Commandments of Tandem Parachute Operations.” The group had developed a common list of rules and presented them to a crowd of nearly 200 tandem instructors, instructor examiners and drop zone owners at the Symposium. Previously, each of the three manufacturers differed in some of their recommended altitudes and procedures, and they wanted to decide on a common set of rules and then bring USPA into the mix. more »