Gearing Up - September 2012
This column nearly always focuses on one topic. This time there are two.
By the time you open this issue of Parachutist, the August 17 comment period will have closed on the Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed parachute landing area standard. To all those who submitted comments: Thank you. It is impossible to predict the FAA’s final action or even how long it will be before we receive it. It would be hard to argue against the proposal if there were a clear safety issue that revealed itself in increased near-hits and collisions between skydivers and aircraft operating on an airport. But not only is there no increase, there aren’t even enough incidents to be statistically significant. And despite an in-depth search over the entire 65-year history of skydiving, we’ve still found no instance of a skydiver hitting an aircraft taxiing at an airport.
Almost daily, I’m struck by the irony of the FAA’s proposal. Nearly all segments of general aviation are in decline—personal flying, flight instruction, aircraft rental—except skydiving. Drop zones are often the busiest—and sometimes the only—activity on an airport. Instead of celebrating and assisting aviation’s one bright spot, the
I wish every USPA member could have the opportunity to drop by headquarters to take the tour and meet the incredible staff of 15 who officially serve each of you from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, but who unofficially work earlier and later each day and over many weekends. You’ll find it’s a diverse group, like the skydivers they serve, with some jumping often, others not jumping so much anymore or not in a while and even a few who haven’t jumped. But they all share a willingness to do their very best to serve you and fulfill your expectations as quickly as possible. Each month, USPA’s four Membership Services staffers handle an average of 2,238 renewing members, 789 new members, 440 license applications, 525 instructional rating applications and renewals and over 1,000 address changes. And turnaround is usually a week or less, which is remarkable.
And yet, increasingly, the Membership Services staffers (and occasionally others) are on the receiving end of an abusive phone call, email or letter. It usually happens when we contact those who haven’t submitted required signatures or met other requirements on their applications. It’s certainly not most members, and it’s not even a lot of members. But even if it’s from a small minority, coarse language and abuse is always undeserved and unnecessary. Many social commentators have observed near-acceptance of belligerent and demeaning response and retort in place of dialogue and conversation. Let’s all reject that and make an effort to slow down and calmly discuss the issue at hand with each other. Life’s too short and skydiving’s too fun to let solvable problems ruin anybody’s day.
Ed Scott | D-13532 | USPA Executive Director