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 »

Tales from the Bonfire - Training for Para-Rescue


by Doug Garr | D-2791 | New York, New York

On February 6, 1972, I took off in a Skyvan from Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and headed about 40 minutes north to Forest Lake. It was jump number 439 and different from all the rest. I was a young editor on assignment for Popular Science magazine to write a story about making a training jump with the Minnesota Para-Rescue Team. This was a unique group of volunteer emergency medical technicians, all of whom were active skydivers. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Scott Jones

by Scott Jones | D-13317 | Winter Haven, Florida

Recently, I returned to skydiving after a 19-year hiatus. When I left the sport I was a 6-foot-tall, 185-pound young man and returned as a 6-foot-tall, 224-pound middle-aged man. Much of the change in my weight reflected a change in my body composition. I put on 20 pounds of lean mass; however, I also added 20 pounds of fat. These changes definitely affected my performance. Most men my age can relate to that few pounds they need to lose. After all, the average American is more than 23 pounds overweight. The problem was that my new body put me on the DZ as “that guy.” You know, the guy with the ballistic fall rate, the guy who always goes low, the guy who everyone groans about when they see him walking up for dive organization. I wasn’t prepared to be “that guy” when I returned to the sport, and it was emotionally challenging.  more »

Profile - Paul “Pop” Poppenhager | D-47

by Brian Giboney

Longtime Florida drop zone owner and instructor Paul “Pop” Poppenhager, D-47, was born in June 1934 and became interested in skydiving at a young age while watching his father jump at airshows. Poppenhager made his first jump—a military jump prior to the Korean War—at age 19. As part of the 82nd Airborne Division, he became a military parachute rigger and test jumper. In the following years, Poppenhager became a well-known instructor and trained countless people to skydive both inside and outside of the military. He joined USPA in 1960, and in 2015, the Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame inducted him as a member. more »

Gearing Up - June 2016

EdScott

Would you react to a skydiving situation if it would prevent another skydiver from incurring injury or death? That’s a rhetorical question, because of course you would. Each of us would. The skydiving community is like a large family in which we are all siblings—often closer—and we watch out for each other. Now let me rephrase the question: Would you initiate an action that could prevent a skydiver’s injury or death? See the difference? The first question implies a reaction to a specific situation. The second question asks you to take preemptive action. more »