Profile - Omar Alhegelan | D-16239

by Brian Giboney

Omar Alhegelan was a pioneer in the discipline of freeflying in the 1990s as a member of the Freefly Clowns with Charles Bryan, Stefania Martinengo, Mike Vail and Olav Zipser. Known for being Zen in freefall, he has won 11 gold medals at national and international competitions and has performed stunts and acted in numerous commercials, TV shows and movies. An international traveler who is fluent in Arabic, English, French, Italian and Spanish, Alhegelan has skydived in numerous places, including the North Pole and Mount Everest. Most recently, he organized a skydiving excursion to Antarctica. Along with skydiving, Alhegelan is now giving motivational speeches and Facebook Live talks on happiness and other topics. more »

Gearing Up - April 2017

EdScott

Here's a jump story. Or rather, a story about a jump that didn't happen. But first, do you believe that things happen for a reason? Or alternatively, do you believe that a bad outcome can later be viewed as a good outcome? more »

Profile - Trent Alkek | D-24348

Trentby Brian Giboney

Trent Alkek, D-24348, along with teammates Jed Lloyd and Stephen Boyd, set the USPA Nationals on fire in freefly from 2003 to 2007. Their team, Spaceland Anomaly, created some never-before-seen moves and also set several world records during speed rounds. Alkek, a USPA member for 17 years and counting, is now a sought-after load organizer who also works in aircraft leasing at Skydive Spaceland—Houston in Rosharon, Texas. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Donna Bachler

I recently completed 40 minutes of continuous, non-stop freefall. Or at least that’s what my brain experienced. My body was lying on a hospital bed, an IV plugged into my vein flowing a steady stream of ketamine, a drug with hallucinogenic side effects. The ketamine treatments were part of a clinical trial to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, better known as PTSD. I’ve suffered from PTSD for a long time due to military experiences, and I jumped at the chance to be part of this study. Most treatments don’t work at all on PTSD. In fact, aside from ketamine, only one other thing has proven effective (for me at least): skydiving. more »

The Cheststrap

It was the seventh jump of the day for our newly formed and unnamed 4-way formation skydiving team. A normal jump on a normal training day. It was the scariest jump I’ve ever been on.

I check gear. All the time. I find things: incorrectly assembled 3-rings, unhooked or misrouted reserve-static-line lanyards and visors up on exit. And I check chest straps. I’ve caught tons of misrouted and dangling chest straps in the loading area and on the airplane. But I missed this one. more »

Gearing Up - March 2017

EdScott

Reflecting on the association’s past year is like digging through your gear bag after a long, hectic skydiving season. The things you expect to see are there, interspersed with surprising items that somehow got thrown in. For USPA, 2016 was just that mixed bag. Let me inventory those items for you. more »

Profile - Lewis "Lew" Sanborn | D-1

by Brian Giboney

Lewis “Lew” Sanborn, D-1, has been skydiving for 67 years. He and Jacques André Istel, D-2, established sport skydiving in the United States in the 1950s. Sanborn started jumping with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and later became a member of the U.S. Parachute Team, master rigger, private and commercial pilot, instructor, national judge and world-record holder. He devised a technique for freefall photography and shot a cover photo for Sports Illustrated. In 1960, he was even nominated for an Academy Award for filming the skydiving documentary “A Sport is Born.” In 1972, USPA honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award “for originating safe and reliable parachuting equipment and pioneering work in freefall photography.” In 2000, Istel inducted him into the Hall of Fame of Parachuting in Felicity, California. In 2001, the Golden Knights made him an honorary member, and in 2010, the International Skydiving Museum inducted him into its Hall of Fame. . more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Marcela Gallardo

“Skydiving changed my life.” I´m sure this is an overused phrase. However, I believe I have valid arguments to use it. Should I tell you my story?
My name is Marcela Gallardo; I’m a 42-year-old woman, mother of three daughters, wife and grandmother. I live in Neuquen City, Argentina, and it’s been two years now since my first tandem jump.
more »

The Great Shoe Jump

Everyone loses something now and again: a sock, an earring, a dog, a heart. Sometimes, these things are found easily: a dollar in the laundry, that favorite pen, a homeless beagle. I used to blame it on poltergeists and a mischievous husband. As age rolls in, I hesitate to blame anything else.
But now the blame can be laid on the winds ... at 10,000 feet:

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Gearing Up - February 2017

EdScott

This month's "Gearing Up" is written for just 22 of you. If 2017 is an average year in the U.S. accident-wise, some 22 of you won't be around to read this column in next February's Parachutist due to a skydiving accident. Let that sink in: 22 of you reading this will die making your last skydive. Odds are you're licensed (most likely a C or D license), have been skydiving for at least 10 years and have just at or over 1,000 jumps. (Don't think you're off the hook if you're not nearly that experienced, since these are averages; less-experienced skydivers will be among them.) Statistics also tell us that the circumstances of your demise will likely involve a hard landing, a mishandled main-parachute malfunction or a collision.

If you knew you were one of the 22, would you take five specific actions to remove yourself from the forlorn list? Of course you would. And you don't even have to quit skydiving. more »