Safety Check

Aircraft Knowledge

A group of 24 jumpers boards a Twin Otter and the last one to board can’t find a seatbelt. So two jumpers share a belt so everyone is belted in for takeoff. The jumpers think this is OK, and the pilot has no idea what’s happening because he can’t see what is going on in the back of the plane.
The left main tire on a Cessna 182 is bald. In spite of complaints to the drop zone owner from the Safety and Training Advisor, the DZO and pilot continue to fly the airplane load after load. The tire finally pops. Luckily, it blows while the plane is taxiing to the runway.

How much do you know and understand about the airplane you jump from every weekend? more »

Public Jumps

Performers often hear “Break a leg!” before the start of a performance, but it’s not really what a skydiver wants to do during a demo. Almost all of us have thought about making a demo jump of some sort, whether jumping into a party out in the middle of nowhere or jumping into a 70,000-seat NFL stadium. Landing your parachute in front of a crowd of non-skydivers is a lot of fun, and who wouldn’t want to have a chance to be a rock star for a day? But jumping into places outside of your regular drop zone can be tricky. Demos require proper planning and execution—including adherence to Federal Aviation Administration Regulations and USPA Basic Safety Requirements—to ensure that the jumps are successful. more »

Forgery

You completed all of your license requirements and are ready to send the form to USPA … but wait! You didn’t get the Safety and Training Advisor’s signature on your license application. Bummer. You really want to get that license sent in and processed in time to make those helicopter jumps, but the S&TA is not available. Well, nobody is watching, so you forge the S&TA’s signature and send in the license application. After all, nobody really checks that stuff, right? Wrong. more »

Mastering Consistent Landings

Mastering the basics of canopy control is one of the most important aspects of learning to skydive. It is also the skill that usually takes the longest for students and newly licensed jumpers to develop. It is a great feeling for skydiving instructors when a younger jumper finally becomes a great canopy pilot rather than a passenger going for a ride to wherever the canopy happens to be pointing. more »

An Intelligent Approach to Technology

A jumper with approximately 100 jumps flew his canopy too far downwind to land in the main landing area. After landing uneventfully in another area of the airport, he explained that he did not turn onto his base leg in time because he was waiting for his audible alarm to beep as his signal.
During a 2-way skydive, a jumper with approximately 500 jumps who planned to deploy at 4,000 feet instead deployed at 2,000 feet. He had been waiting for his audible altimeter to beep but finally realized that he was not wearing his helmet for the skydive, so his audible device was not there.
A jumper with approximately 150 jumps was on an airplane fiddling with his GoPro camera just before exit when another jumper pointed out that his chest strap was not threaded properly through the friction adapter.
A first-jump student did not respond to instructions provided via radio while he was under canopy. After he landed uneventfully, staff discovered that he did not respond to the radio commands because he was busy talking to a friend on his cell phone during his canopy descent. more »

Wingsuit Rules and Recommendations

As the popularity of wingsuit flying continues to expand, the discipline is advancing at a rapid rate in many areas. Its training programs, suit designs, competitions and records are all progressing. But like every emerging discipline that came before it, wingsuiting has experienced a few hiccups during its advances and seems to be suffering from some growing pains. more »

Weather Woes

Unless you live in Southern California, you’ve probably heard a joke about your local weather that goes something like, “If you don’t like the current weather, just wait an hour, and it will change!” There are very few places in the world with consistently sunny, warm and perfect skydiving weather. As jumpers, we don’t have to hold PhDs in meteorology, but we still need to understand the basics. Knowing what weather to look out for can prevent an injury or fatality.

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Five Hazardous Attitudes

The aviation world long ago identified five hazardous attitudes that lead to trouble for pilots flying airplanes. The FAA published these findings in chapter 17 of its “Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge” (available as a PDF at faa.gov). These attitudes are also very relevant to skydivers. Jumpers, as well as pilots, can begin to make better decisions by identifying the hazardous attitudes and minimizing them. more »

Common Sense

Over the 70-plus years of sport skydiving’s evolution, one seeming constant is the unruly reputation of skydivers. The brash, cocky, “to hell with the rules, I’ll do whatever I want” stigma seems to stick with us, no matter what. And sometimes, for good reason. Certain skydivers would rather not follow any rules or guidelines, whether related to skydiving or not. more »

Spinning Malfunctions

After any given weekend, you’ll hear about several jumpers from around the country who needed to cut away from their rapidly spinning main canopies. You’d think that skydivers would really want to avoid having malfunctions, but with all of the spinning malfunctions occurring recently, it seems that the opposite is true. Amazingly, malfunctions of this type remain a prominent cause of cutaways even though almost all of them are preventable. more »