Gearing Up - October 2015

EdScott

This issue of Parachutist contains a ballot for you to elect the members of USPA’s board of directors, who will serve a three-year term starting in February. Beginning October 1, if you have an email address on file with USPA (as most members do), you will also receive an electronic ballot that will allow you to vote securely online in just minutes. If past elections are an indicator, more of you won’t vote than will. Here is why that should change and why you should vote. more »

Profile - Chris Wagner | D-5479

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE20159Over the past 39 years, Chris Wagner has made more than 15,000 jumps, amassed 233 hours of freefall time and built a huge résumé of accomplishments. As a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knights from 1983 to 1991, he earned numerous national and world championships in 4-way and 8-way formation skydiving and served as both team captain and team leader. In 1986, he was on the first 100-way formation skydive, and in 1988, he was part of the Olympic Rings Team that jumped into the Seoul Olympics. Currently, Wagner teaches advanced freefall techniques for the U.S. Navy, holds numerous USPA ratings, is a national judge for formation skydiving and is a Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger. more »

Tales from the Bonfire - Those Human Feelings

by Dan Gingold | B-39878 | Brooklyn, New York

I met Bryan in Florida on my very first day skydiving. Bryan had driven down from New York City to practice wingsuiting. His girlfriend, Katherine, came with him to go through the AFF program and was in my first-jump course. All through ground school and training that day, my nervousness rose. I rode to altitude quaking. When I landed, I felt such an incredible elation. Afterward, drinking a beer with Katherine and Bryan, I tried to describe what I had felt. I remember Bryan, with a huge smile on his face, listening knowingly. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Pierre Tomasini

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by Pierre Tomasini | B-41392 | Tempe, Arizona

One evening in France in 1982, a national-news broadcast featured a story on a skydiving school’s open house. I immediately perceived that there was no need to be an athlete to jump: Gravity works for everybody. It was a big revelation for my teenaged mind. I told my parents that I wanted to jump, and fortunately they did not make it difficult. more »

Gearing Up - September 2015

EdScott

The vision of a national skydiving museum that would collect, archive and showcase skydiving’s unique history began with William H. “Bill” Ottley. Bill served three separate terms on USPA’s board from the mid-1960s through the late-1970s, and then served as USPA’s executive director from 1978-1992. In 1972, Ottley filed corporate documents and had what was then called the American Museum of Sport Parachuting and Air Safety (changed in 2005 to the National Skydiving Museum) incorporated as a charitable organization. From the start, the museum—which has its own, separate board of trustees—has been distinct from USPA. more »

Profile - Donald “Ski” Chmielewski | D-1182

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE20158Donald “Ski” Chmielewski, D-1182, made his first skydive in Zephyrhills, Florida, in 1963 and is still active in the sport today. His love affair with skydiving—and with his wife, Donna, whom he’s been married to and jumping with for 47 years—is as strong as ever. The Chmielewskis have skydived together for decades, becoming involved in Parachutists Over Phorty Society (POPS) events and, later, Skydivers Over Sixty (SOS) and Jumpers Over Seventy (JOS) events. The pair is currently organizing the JOS formation skydiving world record attempts scheduled for November. Go, Chmielewskis, go! more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - Danele Elliott

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by Danele Elliott | A-71548 | Killeen, Texas

The last message Ethan ever saw from me read, “I’ll call you tomorrow. I love you.” I did call the next day, but he didn’t answer. I had no idea that in a few hours his brother would be calling to tell me that my husband of almost eight years had passed away in his sleep. more »

Gearing Up - August 2015

EdScott

Over the past decade, USPA has joined all other general aviation associations in fighting recurring proposals to fund the nation’s air traffic control system—a government-provided service—with user fees instead of the current system of federal fuel taxes. The reason the general aviation community doesn’t want a change is simple: The current system works. GA users, including jump operators, pay for the system through federal taxes on aviation fuel, currently 21.8 cents per gallon for jet fuel and 19.3 cents per gallon for avgas. Users who fly more, and presumably use the ATC system more, pay more. A Cessna operator who flies 10 loads on a Saturday will pay $12 at the pump in federal tax on avgas. A Twin Otter operator who flies 20 loads will pay about $100 in federal tax on jet fuel. A fuel tax is easy to calculate, easy to pay and easy to collect. Conversely, a user fee almost certainly would involve an invoicing and payment process that requires a whole new bureaucracy. more »

Profile - Zach Lewis | D-21616

by Brian Giboney

PROFILE20157Photographer Zach Lewis took to the skies in 1997 and naturally gravitated toward camera flying. Attracted to the precision and engineering of formation skydiving, he became a successful camera flyer for nationally competitive FS teams in his native Texas. In addition to contributing many remarkable photos to Parachutist , he authors a popular photo-interview series in Blue Skies Magazine that combines his good-humored inquisitiveness with his photography talent. more »

How Skydiving Changed My Life - J.T. Valente

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by J.T. Valente | D-26340 | Mount Holly, New Jersey

When I was 9 years old, I witnessed my first skydive. That was when I knew my dream of flying could become reality. Nine years later, I made plans to jump with a friend who worked for a skydiver. We toasted with a few drinks on the eve of our big event. The next morning he chickened out, and I was left without a connection to the sky. more »