Gearing Up

Recent and long-time members alike will know the name of Clint Vincent, one of the association's longest-serving employees. He's actually served two 10-year stints at USPA; the first from 1985 to 1995 and the second between 2007 and 2017. Sadly but deservedly, Clint is retiring from USPA at the end of this year.

Working for USPA takes a special kind of person (and not necessarily a skydiver, though Clint is a longtime and still-active jumper). It takes a person who recognizes how profoundly skydiving affects the lives of those who skydive for the fun of it. It takes a person who understands that a skydiver isn't just a member of an organization but a member of a close family, a select tribe. And it takes a person who wants to provide the very best service as quickly and in as friendly a manner as possible. That all describes Clint's approach to the variety of jobs he's held at USPA. Hired by then-Executive Director Bill Ottley in 1985, Clint and coworker Ray McCauley handled the needs of USPA'S 17,000 joining and renewing members with little automation. A few years later—by then director of membership services with staff support—he also took on the responsibility for licenses and ratings. In 1990, amid a staff reorganization, Clint's USPA AFF Instructor Examiner rating and his Federal Aviation Administration Master Rigger Certificate helped him gain the position of director of training. As such, he ran the demanding AFF certification program, overseeing the other three AFF Instructor Examiners who traveled the world conducting courses. (Clint went on to earn his FAA Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner Certificate and for 18 years assisted with Handsome Dave DeWolf's annual rigger's course.) Another staff reorganization under Executive Director Jerry Rouillard in 1993 placed Clint as director of government relations and director of special projects. Among his many accomplishments, he's proudest of a yearlong effort to convince the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board that wholesale reregulation of skydiving was not necessary. A string of fatal jump-plane crashes revealed that skydivers and operators neglected seatbelt regulations and aircraft weight-and-balance requirements. Clint convinced the federal agencies to give USPA a year to address the sport's safety culture through Parachutist magazine articles and the education of DZ operators and USPA Safety and Training Advisors. His efforts worked, earning Clint a commendation from the FAA and the sport and its aircraft operators a reprieve from increased (and likely burdensome) FAA regulations.

Then, in late 1993, USPA was suddenly without an executive director and found itself with more expenses than revenues. Asked by the board of directors to serve as acting executive director, Clint reorganized USPA's finances and renegotiated vendors' bills. One month, Clint even used his personal savings to make payroll. He continued leading the association until Executive Director Chris Needels was hired in mid-1994. Clint continued with USPA until finally leaving in 1995 … he thought.

Moving back to Virginia in 1999, Clint filled-in part-time doing anything USPA or the co-located National Skydiving Museum needed. Shortly after I became executive director in late 2007, Clint was the obvious choice to become USPA Director of Membership Services. Again. And for these past 10 years, Clint's sole focus has been to provide members with the best, fastest, friendliest service possible.

USPA's board of directors recognized Clint's many contributions to USPA and skydiving by bestowing him with the 1997 USPA Lifetime Achievement Award. His citation reads: "Selfless service for the betterment of all aspects of skydiving and in support of all skydivers." He deserves all of our thanks for 20 years of a job well done.

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