Safety Check

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Whether you are making your first jump or your 10,000th, flying on your belly or standing on your head, you must rely on your equipment for you to survive jumping from an airplane. So, if equipment is such a critical part of survival, doesn’t it make sense to make sure yours is ready for you to jump before every single skydive? more »

Jumping with Toys

We’ve all seen the great photos in Parachutist of smiling jumpers riding in rafts, dangling from a tube or hanging upside down from an unruly, inflatable shark. It sure looks like fun, and in almost every case, it really is a blast! But jumping with toys presents challenges that can turn a fun skydive into a nightmare in a split second, so you need to use caution and common sense on these jumps, just as on any other skydive. more »

Wings in Water

Everyone who holds a USPA B or higher license is required to have undergone live water training and should have an understanding of how to survive an unintentional water landing. However, wingsuits add another dimension to water landings and can complicate an already difficult situation. Recently, a group of jumpers set out to discover how a wingsuit water landing might differ from one in a traditional suit. They performed a total of 46 water entries into swimming pools, including some into a pool that had a moving current. They entered from diving boards and platforms, with and without attached main canopies, wearing fully zipped and partially zipped suits, and were sometimes fully clothed beneath those suits, including wearing heavy boots. more »

Tracking Dives

Tracking dives are popular among jumpers with a wide range of jump numbers and skill levels. In addition, the size of the tracking group can be very flexible, limited only by the number of jumpers and the type of aircraft available (although common sense dictates that if there are newer jumpers on a tracking dive, the size of the group should be kept small). But regardless of whether a tracking dive includes one jumper or 32, or whether it consists of fresh A-license holders or world-champion record-setters, there are special considerations that every participant needs to understand. more »

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to figure out which weather conditions—low clouds, rain, freezing temperatures—should put a halt to jumping. However, the one weather condition that always seems to bite skydivers, year after year, is the wind. What some may consider comfortable wind conditions may very well be too difficult for others to handle. So, how do you decide when the winds are too dangerous for you to jump? There are a lot of factors to consider: more »

Flying Camera

In the 1950s and ’60s, when skydivers first started using video and still cameras in freefall, they carried large, heavy cameras, separate tape decks and heavy batteries (often mounted on the camera flyers’ chests). All this equipment, along with the bulky parachutes, ensured that most jumpers were happy to be in the video and leave the use of awkward equipment and resulting sore necks to the few skydivers who were both very experienced and really interested in videography and photography. more »

Wound Up

Spinning malfunctions can range from a mild inconvenience that a jumper may be able to fix to a wild, violent malfunction that can easily lead to a fatality if the jumper does not deal with it correctly. There are many factors that determine what a jumper experiences during a spinning malfunction, including: more »

In the Right Spot

As skydiving equipment, training and drop zone operations have changed over the past 20 years, so has the act of spotting. The widespread use of larger aircraft and GPS technology has caused the true art of spotting to slowly disappear. Although technology now helps jumpers accurately exit over the airport, we shouldn’t simply rely on a green light to tell us when to leave the plane. more »

Good News-Bad News

2009 ended with just 16 civilian skydiving fatalities in the United States, a modern-day record low. We have to go all the way back to 1961 to find a year with fewer fatalities (14). On one hand, this is a phenomenal achievement considering that the number of jumps made in 2009 by 32,000-plus USPA members is considerably higher than in 1961, when 3,353 members made a much smaller (but unknown total) number of jumps. In regard to safety, our sport has certainly come a long way. On the other hand, we had many near misses, serious injuries and have seen many mistakes repeated from past years. more »

Reacting to a Canopy Collision

Unless you are a jumper who has some canopy formation skydiving experience, you may not have given much thought about what you should do if you are ever involved in a canopy collision. Knowing what to do, and reacting correctly to the situation, just might save your life and the life of the other jumper involved. more »