Gearing Up - December 2016


Winter’s icy grip doesn’t stop all skydivers, but many do take a break until temperatures rise again. Whether you are jumping or not, you should plan to join hundreds of fellow skydivers, scores of riggers and dozens of parachute and component manufacturers at the February 10-18 series of events tied to the 2017 Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.The PIA Symposium (February 13-17) is a biennial event that combines top-notch presentations and demonstrations from industry experts with a world-class exhibit hall full of the latest gear, gadgets and swag. PIA’s business meeting happens the preceding weekend (February 10-12) and presents an opportunity to sit in on that association’s various committees involved in parachute component certification, rigging techniques, etc. Go to for registration information.

USPA’s board of directors also meets February 10-12 in Chattanooga prior to the symposium. On Friday evening at 7 p.m., USPA will also hold its annual general membership meeting. USPA meetings are open to all USPA members in good standing. This and all USPA meetings are at the Chattanooga Marriott Downtown hotel next to the Chattanooga Convention Center, which is hosting the symposium.

If you own or manage a drop zone or have an interest in starting one, you should join an expected 120 attendees at USPA’s daylong Drop Zone Operators’ Conference on Monday, February 13. The day is jam-packed with DZ marketing sessions, safety reviews and regulatory updates from respected presenters. The conference actually kicks off at a Sunday evening reception where all attendees can begin the networking that is recognized as a vital benefit of the conference. Additionally, one conference registrant from each DZ is eligible for a discounted PIA registration. To register for the DZO Conference, email

Sunday’s reception will also honor Dr. Alvin Lee Schlichtemeier, who will receive the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award that the USPA Board unanimously bestowed on him this past July.

A longtime Southwest Regional Director and board member from 1997 through 2013, Schlichtemeier also served as the association’s treasurer for all but the first two years of his board tenure. But it’s his ownership (along with his wife, Carol) of Skydive Dallas from 1992 to 2016 that makes it most fitting that he receive the Lifetime Achievement recognition at the DZO Conference reception. Friends of “Doc Lee” who want to join the conference attendees in honoring him should RSVP at

Finally, toward the end of the week, USPA will host a Tandem and AFF Instructor Examiner Standardization Meeting February 17-18. The AFF standardization meeting is on Friday and the tandem standardization meeting is on Saturday. Those holding current instructor examiner ratings must attend a standardization meeting every two years to renew the rating. Individuals who want to earn an instructor examiner rating must attend a standardization meeting within 24 months preceding their Instructor Examiner Rating Course. You can register for the meeting by sending an email to

So even if you aren’t jumping this winter, there is plenty of opportunity to learn about any aspect of skydiving, interact with the USPA Board and members of the Parachute Industry Association, check out new gear, exchange ideas about DZ operations and go for the ultimate USPA instructional rating. Safe skydiving demands continual education. Chattanooga in mid-February is the place to get it. You should be there.


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