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 »

Gearing Up - May 2016

EdScott

USPA is having a milestone birthday this year, and you are invited to help celebrate! Join the USPA Board and staff on Saturday, July 23, at USPA Headquarters in Fredericksburg, Virginia, to celebrate the 70thanniversary of our formal start. more »

Tales from the Bonfire - Days Like This

by Joe Jennings | D-13033 | Palos Verdes, California

5:30 a.m.
We were in Malaysia, in an A-Star helicopter at 6,000 feet during our third day of filming a skydiving sequence for an Indian movie called “Don.” In the sequence, stunt doubles wearing hidden parachutes—Omar Alhegelan as the good guy and Greg Gasson as the bad guy–fight over a single parachute system. The good guy wins, of course, and drifts to earth holding onto the parachute’s leg straps with one hand. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Sarah Crowley

by Sarah Crowley | A-67923 | Yosemite National Park, California

In October 2012, as my ground school date neared, I was filled with a level of fear I hadn’t known possible—a sort of hysteria—but implosive and oh so quiet. When the day (Halloween, appropriately) arrived, the fear didn't vanish, but it at least shriveled to something manageable. In retrospect, I suppose that pre-jump terror was not just a meditation on my mortality or the thought of breaking bones but a deep intuition that I just might change ... the horror of that. more »

Profile - Joe Jennings | D-13033

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE1605 Joe Jennings is a Hollywood skydiving legend, and his legend is still growing! Jennings gained international attention as a camera flyer in skysurfing at the ESPN X Games and other international competitions. He soon began shooting footage for films and television, as well as performing stunts himself. His talent has earned him two Emmys (for cinematography and aerial stunt coordination), and he’s worked on movies such as “Charlie’s Angels,” “xXx,” “Air Force One” and the 2015 remake of “Point Break.” more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Steve Phelps

Steve Phelps | D-26782; AFF, tandem and IAD instructor; PRO rating | Bixby, Oklahoma

In September 1979, I had to make a very difficult decision, one that brought decades of regret. I was a U.S. Army Green Beret on Operational Detachment A Team 552, a green-light team that performed HALO jumps and SCUBA dives. I had completed Underwater Operations Training (SCUBA school) the previous year and was slotted to go to HALO school. I was ready to extend my time in the Special Forces to attend the school, but at the last minute my company commander told me that I must re-enlist; an extension was not enough. My wife had just had our first child, a girl, and I had plans for college, so I refused and left the service when my enlistment expired a few months later. more »

Profile - Marian Sparks | D-29599

by Brian Giboney

Marian Sparks started skydiving at age 51 and has gone on to make more than 2,100 jumps and set numerous large-formation skydiving records. Sparks is a breast cancer survivor who decided to use her skydiving skills to give back to The Rose, a Houston-area facility that provides breast-cancer services to uninsured women, which saved her life in 2005. She and a group of sky friends founded Jump for the Rose in 2010 to raise money for the non-profit through events and record attempts. Sparks has inspired many people, and the energy she devotes to helping others is contagious. more »