Tales from the Bonfire - Take Not Thine Altitude for Granted

by Joe McHenry | D-6770 | Newport, Pennsylvania

Unlike other commandments that I was taught in first-jump class, “Take not thine altitude for granted, lest the earth rise up and smite thee,” is carved in stone. more »

Gearing Up - September 2016

EdScott

A cloudless blue sky enveloped the entire Eastern Seaboard that early Tuesday morning 15 years ago. Shortly after 9 a.m., it would be scarred by dark, acrid smoke rising from New York City; Arlington, Virginia; and a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. A northerly wind blew smoke from the burning Pentagon over the townhouse offices of USPA in nearby Alexandria. The streets and highways were clogged with federal workers sent home for the day, so USPA staff members stayed in place and tried to work but more often were pulled to the TV news or searched the web for updates. more »

Tales from the Bonfire - Finding a Cutaway Canopy

by Matt Hoover | D-29246 | Milpitas, California

Skydive Chicago, Summerfest 2015. Last day, last jump. Something I'd always worried about finally happened. I had to cut away over a giant cornfield. With only hours of daylight left, I knew the chances of finding my main were slim. Those cornfields are notorious for claiming canopies every summer. Yet somehow, I beat the odds. I found my canopy eight days later while sitting in a chair some 2,000 miles away. This was the result of perseverance, technology, helpful friends and some luck.
Here's how we did it and a loose set of guidelines for jumpers in similar situations: more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Brittany Gray

by Brittany Gray | C-43319 | Derby, New York

A tandem was something I had always wanted to do, but I was just out of college and very concerned with the mountain of student loans I was just beginning to climb. I didn’t feel right about spending that much money on something “frivolous,” but if I had only known then that $250 would become my average weekly spending on the sport, I might not have given it a second thought. more »

Profile - Matt Davidson | D-17131

by Brian Giboney

Matt Davidson, D-17131, has spent half of his 42 years on earth skydiving with the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights. During that time, he has accumulated countless world and national record and championship titles in 4-way, 8-way, 10-way and 16-way formation skydiving. Dedication to the U.S. military and to skydiving is a familiy affair: Davidson's father, Mike Davidson, was also a Golden Knight, and his wife Jen Davidson, is a member of the team as well. more »

Gearing Up - August 2016

EdScott

As an association of some 38,000 adventure-seeking members, USPA will occasionally need to discipline an individual by suspending or revoking that person’s license, rating or membership. Section 1-6 of the USPA Governance Manual spells out the due process afforded members in these situations. It also lists the "seven deadly sins" that garner attention and possible discipline. more »

Profile - Mikhail Markine | D-29696

by Brian Giboney

Mikhail Markine is a very talented and determined skydiving and wind-tunnel competitor, coach and organizer. He is so talented that 4-way formation skydiving team SDC Rhythm XP recruited him to fly tail even before he got U.S. residency and could qualify for U.S. medals. Following a few years of flying with Rhythm and earning a chest full of medals, he joined the Arizona Airspeed 4-way team after competing (and winning gold) on the Airspeed 16-way team at the 2015 USPA Nationals. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Rachel Ginsburg

by Rachel Ginsburg | B-43069 | San Diego, California

I woke up to the voice of my ground instructor repeatedly calling my name through the crackling radio at my ear, urgently yelling at me to untwist my lines. After a moment of disoriented confusion, I instinctively recalled what I had learned during my long day of static-line training. I checked altitude and kicked out three to four rotations of line twist. Once under a stable canopy, I realized I had absolutely no memory following the moment my hands slipped from the strut of the Cessna 182, a yellow smiley-face sticker taunting me from the underside of the wing I didn’t want to let go of. I had completely blacked out from fear. But within a minute, I was safe, the radio was quiet, and I took a moment to look around me. Seeing a patchwork quilt of farmland stretching for miles, vibrant under the clear blue sky I was briefly a part of, I felt the greatest sense of freedom in my life. I began laughing and kicking my legs like a kid on a swing as terror transformed into pure joy. more »

Tales from the Bonfire - I Broke My Back

by Angie Clifford | B-43066 | Berkeley, California

Like many of you, I fell into skydiving by chance and immediately fell in love. At the time of my accident, I had been in the sport six months and had a little more than 100 jumps. After 75 uneventful and comfortable landings on my docile, aging canopy, I considered moving to a newer canopy with better wind penetration and more horizontal glide but with the same wing loading (less than 1:1). I consulted AFF instructors, coaches and colleagues before making the move, and I understood that while my new canopy was relatively docile, it was less forgiving. I was comfortable with the change. Six jumps later, I had a hard landing and broke my back. As is often the case, the accident was the confluence of preventable events that were in my control. more »

Gearing Up - July 2016

EdScott

July is the month when we reflect on our freedoms, but we should also reflect on the challenges and sacrifices those freedoms required. The July 4, 1776, signing of the Declaration of Independence did not actually make us independent; armed conflict began 15 months earlier at Concord and Lexington, and the resulting war lasted more than eight years. Many of the signers lost everything; some—along with 25,000 citizen-soldiers—lost their lives. Nearly the whole populace suffered hardship but prevailed and became a nation. more »