The Rating Corner

The Category E Aircraft Briefing

Once students are in Category E of USPA’s Integrated Student Program, they have been around long enough for instructors to introduce them to additional information about aircraft operations. The Category E aircraft briefing is designed to impart the information about jump airplanes that students will need to know once they are independent A-licensed skydivers (and Category E students will soon be wrapping up their license requirements to become just that). more »

Perfecting Your Students’ Flares

Anyone who has spent time observing students can probably recall a few awkward and ungraceful flares that resulted in some pretty scary landings. By and large, the most common error in a student’s progression is flaring the canopy too high above the ground—particularly during the first few landings, when a student is working on getting used to executing an entirely new and foreign skill. Fortunately, students use large canopies that are fairly forgiving of mistakes. more »

Choosing the Correct Canopies for Your Students

There are many variables to consider when deciding what size canopy a student should jump. Years ago, this was not really an issue—every student jumped a 300-square-foot canopy, and instructors didn’t need to make a choice. But while larger canopies allowed for soft landings (at least in most cases), the very low wing loadings meant that even the slightest amount of wind caused students to fly backward. In those days, it was not unusual for students to back into trees, power lines or other landing hazards. more »

Closing the Gap

A jumper who recently received a USPA A license stated that he wished he had learned the functions of the front and rear risers in detail, how to avoid canopy collisions, the appropriate times to disconnect a reserve static line (RSL), the best way to get back to the airport from a long spot and how he should flare his canopy during low-wind landings. If his instructors had trained this jumper properly, wouldn’t he already know this stuff? Yet somehow, his instructors still signed him off to receive his USPA A license. It is sad that some drop zones continue to provide student training that leaves so many gaps in skills and knowledge. more »

Teaching by Example

As an instructor, you need to ask yourself whether you are setting a good example with your canopy piloting. While hanging around the drop zone waiting to jump, students will often watch canopies landing. It doesn’t make much sense to tell them that they must fly an established landing pattern when you fly your own canopy like an out-of-control moron. Canopy collisions are a big problem and have caused many fatalities over the last decade, so it only makes sense to show students what a good pattern looks like by demonstrating the correct procedure during your own landings. more »

USPA Instructional Programs Through the Years

When the Integrated Student Program (ISP) was approved at the July 2000 USPA Board meeting after two years of testing and development, the next task at hand was restructuring the instructional rating system. The rating system that originated with the static-line program had become a confusing patchwork, pieced together when the Accelerated Freefall (AFF), Tandem and Instructor-Assisted Deployment (IAD) training methods and the Coach rating came along. The Instructor Examiner rating also needed a complete overhaul, since it had remained virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1962. It was definitely time to simplify this hodgepodge. more »

You Make Me Sick!

Some tandem instructors rarely have a problem with students becoming nauseated under canopy, while others frequently land with their students (and themselves) covered in vomit. Is it a coincidence? If it happens with any regularity, probably not. more »

What Danger Lurks?

Almost any weekend, tandem instructors and skydiving school managers hear some variation of this question from a licensed jumper: “Hey, I brought my (insert one of the following: girlfriend, brother, mom, boyfriend, sister, buddy) out for a tandem jump; is it OK if I tag along on the skydive?” more »

Water Training

You hear it at almost every water-training session: “Why do I have to jump in a pool with this old parachute? I’m never going to land in the water, but if I do, I know how to swim!” And so goes the argument from jumpers who don’t truly understand how serious of a problem a water landing can be. Although water landings are not as common as they once were in the days of less-maneuverable round parachutes, they still happen enough for the training to be important. A proper water-training session should serve as an educational tool for each participant and not just a routine to be drudged though so that the jumper can check off that box to get his license. A USPA Safety & Training Advisor, Instructor or Instructor Examiner should conduct a thorough training session and log it in the jumper’s log book once it is completed. more »

License and Rating Equivalents

USPA occasionally receives calls and e-mails asking how to convert foreign licenses and ratings or military ratings and jump experience into the USPA equivalent. Though the rules are similar for converting foreign and military accreditations, there are some differences. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) sets international standards for skydiving licenses. The following rules apply to foreign license holders: more »