The Rating Corner

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 »

Preventing Tandem Fatalities

A look at USPA’s fatality statistics shows an alarming trend: While overall skydiving fatalities decreased during the past 10 years compared to the two previous decades, student fatalities increased. With better training programs and equipment than ever before, the number of student fatalities should have declined just as the total numbers have. The reasons for student fatalities vary, but many could have had different outcomes had the instructors stuck with standard procedures for working with students and supervised them more closely. more »

Shaking off the Rust

For many instructional rating holders in the U.S., student training and jumping activity finally comes to life again in March after several frigid months of un-jumpable weather. First-time students start showing up, as do those returning students who didn’t get a chance to wrap up their A-license requirements before the weather turned cold and the drop zone closed for the winter. But before you get busy helping students get current and before you start jumping with all those first timers, make sure you are current yourself. Whether you are a coach or an instructor, and no matter which discipline you hold a rating in, ground and air skills can get rusty in just a short period of time. more »

Skydiving Skills, Learning and Sleep

Are you staying up late studying the Skydiver’s Information Manual or Instructor’s Rating Manual for a rating examination? Or staying at the DZ to do a couple more practice jumps, even though you’re exhausted? more »

The Reasons for the Rules

While every skydiving fatality is a tragedy, tandem student and instructor fatalities are doubly so. But the truly tragic part is not just that two lives are often lost in a single accident, it is the fact that most, if not all, tandem fatalities to date could have been avoided by sticking to standard procedures. A trained, professional tandem instructor controls a tandem jump from the ground training to landing, but in spite of that, tandem fatalities have been on the rise over the last five years. more »