Safety Check

Removable Deployment Systems

Back in the early days of sport parachuting, jumpers considered the slider unusual and perhaps even a bit dangerous. But in the 1970s, parachute designer Greg Yarbenet pursued the idea to help slow the severely hard openings that were common at the time. As the story goes, he started by placing his wedding ring around the lines on a toy parachute. Liking what he saw, he played with the design and created a full-sized fabric slider that had D-rings at the corners. Eventually, designers modified the design to incorporate grommets at the inside of the fabric edges, which helped reduce entanglements, giving us the design still in use today. more »

Preventing Premature Brake Releases

A premature brake release on one side of your main canopy during deployment can cause a mild inconvenience, a fatal accident or anything in between, depending upon a variety of factors. But regardless of how well your canopy handles it, a premature brake release will affect controllability right after deployment, which increases the potential for a canopy collision with another jumper. A brake release can also lead to a malfunction that requires you to cut away and deploy your reserve; it can even lead to a fatality if you do nothing to bring the canopy under control. Indeed, several fatalities over the past few years occurred after jumpers experienced brake releases on one side of their canopies during deployment but did not correctly handle the problem. more »

Canopy Courses

Many canopy-related accidents are rooted in a lack of basic skill and knowledge regarding canopy flight. The USPA Board of Directors has taken a step toward reducing canopy-related injuries and fatalities by mandating new requirements for the USPA B license. As of January 1, USPA’s new requirements are in place. Jumpers must now take a canopy course and submit a completed and properly signed USPA Canopy Piloting Proficiency Card before receiving a USPA B-license. more »

This Year’s Wish List

*Special online content available for download.*

Dear Santa,

Sorry about the buzz job! It was the fastest way I could think of getting my list to you. It’s been another busy year, and I have been behaving most of the time. But it is frustrating to see so many jumpers injured or killed because of canopy accidents. This year, my wish list is all about improving canopy control. I want jumpers to: more »

Opening High

Whether just for pleasure or as a focused training exercise, opening and flying parachutes at higher altitudes has become more common in recent years. A high deployment provides a jumper with lots of time to practice new canopy maneuvers or just relax and enjoy the scenery. Additionally, starting in January, every USPA B-license applicant must complete the canopy drills outlined in Section 6-11 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual. So, even more jumpers are likely to be deploying high to work on those skills. more »

Wingsuit Fly-Bys

An open canopy is a tempting target for many wingsuit flyers. But any buzzing attempt gone awry would spell disaster for the wingsuiter and the canopy pilot. And it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out that a collision between a wingsuiter and a tandem pair under canopy could easily up the fatality count to three. more »

Look Out Above!

All skydivers learn as part of their student training that the low man has the right of way under canopy. While this rule holds true in just about every situation, things aren’t always that black and white in today’s skydiving environment. A jumper at 1,000 feet under a cross-braced canopy will likely land before a jumper at 300 feet with a larger canopy and lighter wing loading. Because of the additional risk of a canopy collision, jumpers must never initiate high-performance landings while sharing the airspace with skydivers flying standard landing patterns. more »

Aircraft Emergencies

Fortunately, the airplane ride to altitude is almost always uneventful. But that doesn’t mean you can keep your head buried in the sand and pretend you don’t have to plan for an emergency. The planning you do for an aircraft emergency might mean the difference between coming through it unscathed and being seriously injured or killed. With no plan, you also risk making the situation worse for the pilot and other jumpers by reacting inappropriately. Just as with skydiving emergencies, there are many different scenarios when it comes to aircraft emergencies, and each requires everyone involved to act correctly. more »

Jumping at Unfamiliar DZs

Jumping at an unfamiliar drop zone can be intimidating, especially to newer skydivers who may have jumped at only one place so far. Jumpers need to approach visiting a new location with caution and planning, whether it is just a weekend jumping out of a Cessna 182 or sharing the skies with hundreds of jumpers at a large boogie. And this caution applies to jumpers of all experience levels. more »

Eliminating Canopy Collisions

With the recent spate of fatal canopy collisions, skydivers around the world are looking for solutions to the problem—and so are the board members and staff of USPA. Unfortunately, canopy collisions are nothing new, and other years have been similar to this one, with the subject becoming a hot issue after several collisions in a short period of time. more »