If you make a skydive and don’t make a note of it in a logbook, did the jump really take place? Sure it did, but how do you prove it years from now when you need to show proof of your jump numbers for a license or rating?
Logging jumps into a paper logbook is becoming a lost art. In some cases, this causes big problems when a jumper needs to prove his jump experience to receive a USPA rating or license. Increasingly, jumpers are either not logging jumps at all or are using digital devices to keep track of jump numbers and freefall time. Neither of these choices is a good idea when it comes to showing documented proof of your jump history.
Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 3-1-C includes guidelines for proper logging when it comes to licenses, ratings and awards:
“1. Skydives offered as evidence of qualification must have been:
a. made in accordance with the USPA requirements in effect at the time of the jump
b. legibly recorded in chronological order in an appropriate log that contains the following information:
(1) jump number
(4) exit altitude
(5) freefall length (time)
(6) type of jump (formation skydiving, freeflying, canopy formation, style, etc.)
(7) landing distance from the target
(8) equipment used
(9) verifying signature
2. Jumps for license and rating qualifications must be signed by another licensed skydiver, a pilot or a USPA National or FAI [Fédération Aéronautique Internationale] Judge who witnessed the jump.”
Obviously if you are not logging your jumps in any way, you will not have proof of ever making those jumps. Your only recourse for re-creating a jump history is to acquire your manifest records from all of the drop zones where you have made jumps in the past. This is also the only solution for anyone who loses his logbook. Do you really want to have to hunt down manifest records? What about the drop zones that do not keep electronic manifest records? You can see how quickly this can escalate into a nearly impossible task in some circumstances.
What if you’re using a digital device to keep track of your jump numbers? Join the crowd! More and more jumpers are relying on digital devices every year. However, these devices only keep track of some of the information that you must log according to Section 3 of the SIM. A digital device will keep track of the jump number, date, exit altitude and freefall time. It won’t provide the location, type of jump, landing distance from target, equipment used or a validating signature.
Many years ago, USPA’s Safety and Training Committee responded to the question of electronic logging by electing to leave it to the discretion of the Safety and Training Advisors as to whether an electronic device provides valid proof of jump numbers. Many S&TAs allow local jumpers—whom they know well and see every weekend—to use digital devices as proof, but you’d better check with your S&TA to be sure. And chances are, when you attend a rating course you will not know the examiner beforehand. Additionally, examiners must be able to document the rating requirements for each candidate, which means seeing logged entries showing jump numbers, freefall time and (for tandem) three years of parachuting experience.
The only truly safe and valid solution is to use an old-fashioned paper logbook that lists all of the items outlined in Section 3 of the SIM for at least your first 500 jumps. These are the most critical jump numbers that USPA must verify for PRO or instructional ratings. If you are logging in a paper logbook, keep it up! If you aren’t, get back to it! Who knows, in addition to being able to easily show your jump history to an examiner or S&TA, one day you may look back at those handwritten entries and have some laughs remembering good times.
Jim Crouch | D-16979 | USPA Director of Safety and Training