Gearing Up - December 2011


USPA just received the National Transportation Safety Board’s final response on USPA’s initiatives to address the safety board’s concerns about jump-plane inspection and maintenance issues. The safety board was clearly pleased with USPA’s efforts to both educate operators about inspection and maintenance requirements, as well as our effort to verify each jump plane’s inspection method. The safety board closed the recommendation and classified it with a rare “Exceeds Recommended Action.” USPA’s board and our Group Member operators should be proud of taking decisive industry action to address the safety board’s concerns. And skydivers of every level can have greater confidence that the jump planes at Group Member DZs are meeting FAA inspection and maintenance requirements. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Laura Bonner


by Laura Bonner | Richmond, Virginia

I don’t skydive. As a friend of mine says, I stay on the ground and collect life insurance. And I have my reasons, none of which matter to you junkies out there, but I can admit that skydiving has irrevocably altered the course of my existence in ways that somehow mesh with nostalgic memories from childhood and then push me into the wondrous exploration of the unknown. more »

Profile - John LeBlanc | D-10824

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE201112John LeBlanc, D-10824, is a legendary parachute designer and test jumper. While earning his Bachelor of Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), he met Bill Coe and in the mid-1980s joined Coe’s fledgling company, Performance Designs. Since then, he’s designed and tested numerous landmark canopies, including the PD nine-cell, Sabre, Sabre2, Stiletto and Velocity. more »

Gearing Up - November 2011


One of the few constants in life is change. I fell in love with skydiving when I took that first step into freefall 13 years ago. It changed my life forever. I was hooked on the sport, working manifest on the weekends to pay for AFF. After increasing jump numbers and gaining experience, I became a USPA coach, then a videographer. But I wanted more from the sport. So, in 2002, when the opportunity to join the USPA staff presented itself, working in my field of communications, I eagerly accepted. My passion became my career and essentially my life. Now, here I am, nine years later, moving on from what I truly believe is the best job in the world. Why? Because change is good. more »

Profile - Christy Frikken | D-28865

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE201111Christy Frikken is an accomplished skydiver and the force behind 4-way formation skydiving (FS) team Perris Fury. After cutting away from a traditional career, Frikken moved to California, poured her soul into skydiving and founded Fury, which has medaled at several competitions in the U.S. and abroad. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Barry Sinex


by Barry Sinex | D-31060 | Duluth, Minnesota

When I was 5 years old, I used to have dreams I could fly. If I ran and dove with enough vigor, I would experience a few minutes of flight. In 1969, we moved to Florida. On weekends I saw parachutes, and I was drawn to them just like a moth to a flame. It wasn't long before I was holding tension on the Para-Commander parachutes while the skydivers flaked their canopies. more »

Gearing Up - October 2011


Until recently, skydiving’s medal-winning competitors received accolades within the pages of Parachutist and from friends and family but earned little other attention. Two years ago, USPA initiated a campaign to notify local and regional hometown media—including newspapers, radio and TV—that their hometown man or woman was a national champion, or in the case of world meets, an international champion. The effort was an astounding success, creating local celebrities and generating countless pages, video and airtime of positive skydiving coverage. The medalist’s DZ often gained positive media attention, too. more »

Profile - Ty Losey | D-22574

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE201110Ty Losey, D-22574, is a multi-talented full-time skydiver who jumps at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. As a member of Arizona Arsenal, he won a gold medal in the first official 4-way vertical formation skydiving (VFS) competition, a test event at the USPA Nationals in 2006. Since then, he has stockpiled an impressive array of medals in VFS. Besides being a competitor, Losey teaches skydiving and is a tandem and AFF instructor examiner, a wind tunnel instructor, an FAA Senior Rigger and holds a PRO rating. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Brian Doyne


by Brian Doyne | A-60685 | Fredericksburg, Virginia

To put it simply, skydiving gave me freedom. In February of 2005, I was deployed to Iraq as a member of an explosive ordnance disposal unit. Our job was the neutralization of explosive threats to coalition forces; we’re the guys and girls that stop roadside bombs from hurting folks. It wasn’t always easy, but truth be told, we sure had fun doing it. On February 24, 2005, I was doing a post-blast investigation on a blast site that had injured some American soldiers when three more devices went off. The largest of them was about 20 feet away and had an estimated 20 pounds of explosives in it. Besides hurting like a bunch of words not allowed in print, it did the following: mostly tore both legs off below the knee, screwed up all the tendons and ligaments in both knees, collapsed a lung, blew my left arm off below the elbow, destroyed my left eye, and fractured my skull (and those are just the major injuries). Needless to say, this was a life-altering experience. I’ve stayed positive, though, kept myself active and try to stay in shape, but the truth is—things hurt. All the time. more »

Gearing Up - September 2011


That Tuesday 10 years ago started memorably as a clear, blue-sky morning. Suddenly, there were news reports of a tragic airplane accident, which soon proved to be no accident at all. Some of the windows of USPA’s offices, then located in Alexandria, Virginia, faced north, and before long, smoke from the Pentagon obscured the sky. Throughout the day, it was hard to sort news from rumor. In nearby D.C., there were wild reports of car bombings, bomb threats, more inbound jets, and before long, the Alexandria streets that led out of the city were jammed. Before the day ended, all civil aviation, including skydiving, was grounded, with no indication of when things would get back to normal. In fact, no one knew what the new normal would be. At home that night, I took my 9-year-old son outside. Our house was near a busy general aviation airport and beneath arrival paths into both Baltimore and Washington commercial airports, and there were always airplanes overhead. Not that night. Only the sounds of the combat air patrol were heard. more »