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 »

Gearing Up - April 2016

EdScott

Gearing Up This year, at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, September 10-21, the United States will host the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships Mondial for the first time ever. The Mondial includes championships in all skydiving disciplines save the World Championships of Wingsuit Flying, which Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida will host November 2-10, and the World Championships of Canopy Piloting, which Skydive Farnham in Canada will host August 20-27. The event will be a momentous occasion, when the members of our U.S. Parachute Team will compete against the world’s best skydivers on our home soil and in front of our home crowd. more »

Profile - Nancy Gruttman-Tyler | D-3631

by Brian Giboney

Nancy Gruttman-Tyler, D-3631, made her first leap from an airplane in 1969. She was on the first 16-way all-female star in 1974, served on USPA’s board of directors from 1977-1981 and was one of the first female AFF instructors. After taking 30 years off from jumping—she served her country in the U.S. Army and deployed to several war zones—Gruttman-Tyler returned to the sport in her 60s. She is once again a very active jumper and administers the popular Women’s Star Crest Recipient Awards program, which recognizes those who participate in skydives that include eight or more women. more »