Safety Check

A Letter from Skydive Arizona S&TA Bryan Burke

Every Safety Day, Skydive Arizona in Eloy tries to combine practical safety exercises in the daytime with a more generalized, thoughtful look at safety trends during an evening presentation. The latter element has always been my job and my passion. I’ve been a Safety and Training Advisor since they were known as Area Safety Officers, and although I only have a few thousand jumps, I’d be willing to bet good money that I’ve seen more jumps than anyone alive. The downside to my job is the 25 fatalities I’ve worked over the last two decades and the hundreds of serious accidents. I want to do everything I can to reduce that, and education based on solid facts is my best tool. Most of those accidents were preventable. more »

Know Your Gear

As a student, your instructor taught you (or should have taught you) how to perform a proper gear inspection, as well as basic rig maintenance such as replacing a closing loop and maintaining the 3-ring release system. Remember that training? If a recent Safety Day seminar gives any indication, the answer is probably not! During the seminar, a USPA Safety and Training Advisor had participants examine an intentionally fouled-up rig to try to find 17 different rigging errors. A surprising number of participants missed basic items such as leg straps that were improperly routed through the friction adapters, a misrouted main bridle and an incorrectly assembled 3-ring system. Surprisingly, the newly licensed jumpers scored better than the more experienced skydivers! more »

Windy-Day Tips

Springtime weather often means windy weather, and while skydivers are often grounded when the winds are too strong or gusty, there are plenty of days when the wind picks up but remains at a reasonable level and we can continue to jump. However, we have to stay sharp and pay attention, especially under canopy. more »

Boogie Fever

Warmer temperatures are just around the corner for most of the country, and with warmer weather, skydivers will begin enjoying start-of-season events at various drop zones. For many of you, a season-opener boogie may be the first time you’ve been in the air in months, and you may also be jumping with new people in planes larger than the trusty old Cessna 182 back home. Your first priority should always be safety, because sometimes “boogie fever” leads to some pretty dumb decisions. more »

Travel Tips

Most jumpers tend to stick with one drop zone, especially during their student training days. Everything about the drop zone becomes second nature. The local jumpers, manifest procedures, airplanes, and the layout of the landing area, airport and surrounding land become “oh, so familiar.” But eventually, almost all jumpers end up going to new and unfamiliar locations. Whether it is a visit to a nearby drop zone during a weekend of normal jump operations or a long trip to a boogie or other special event, it is fun and exciting to head out for new adventures. But it can also be intimidating, especially if you are new to the sport and leaving the nest for the first time. A little planning and preparation will go a long way toward making your experience fun and painless. more »

Industry Response to the Bridle-Piercing Issue

Over the past several years, USPA has received reports of at least six jumpers who experienced locked main containers after their main closing pins pierced their pilot-chute bridles when they attempted to deploy. Thankfully, all of the jumpers were able to successfully deploy their reserve canopies past their main pilot chutes and land uneventfully. more »

The 2013 Wish List

Dear Santa,

It’s hard to believe another year is down the tubes! While USPA members had a pretty safe year overall, there is always room for improvement. It’s frustrating to see the same mistakes repeated over and over, resulting in injuries and fatalities that could have easily been avoided. So this year, my wish list is all about the basics that have proven to make skydiving safer: more »

Avoiding Tail Strikes

It seems like it should be a simple enough process to exit an airplane without striking the tail. After all, jumpers make approximately 3 million skydives each year in the U.S., and nearly all of those are uneventful. Yet several times a year, we hear about jumpers who are injured (or, on rare occasions, killed) after striking the tail of an airplane in flight. Almost without exception, tail strikes occur during solo exits. more »

Preventing Aircraft Stalls

Recently, a Beech 18 twin-engine airplane that was flying a load of jumpers crashed into the yard of a residence, killing the pilot. Luckily, nobody was killed on the ground, and the jumpers had all been able to exit the airplane before it crashed, landing safely. While the National Transportation Safety Board will not release its report for quite a while, the preliminary information points to the aircraft’s entering a stall as the jumpers were positioning in the door to exit. more »

Helicopter Jumps

Most skydivers—even if they’ve never had a flying lesson—generally have quite a good understanding of airplanes. After several hundred (or thousand) takeoffs and rides to altitude, jumpers tend to pick up a fair amount of knowledge as if through osmosis. However, helicopters are fairly uncommon around drop zones. Even fixed-wing pilots who are skydivers don’t fully understand how they work, and the average skydiver understands them even less. Since only a handful of skydivers also pilot helicopters and since only a few helicopter pilots have experience flying jumpers, educational resources are scarce and misconceptions are abundant. more »