Summer in Seattle

A USPA Staff Report

For many who attended the summer USPA Board of Directors meeting July 21-23, Seattle, Washington, offered respite from the oppressive heat blanketing most of the country. Armed with research and member feedback, the directors arrived in the Emerald City ready to tackle difficult topics and ensure the association’s continued success. Prior to the start of the meeting, President Jay Stokes modified the schedule to allow committees to maximize their time, and by the end of the weekend, each committee had successfully addressed all of its agenda items.

Safety and Training
While most of the country was cooking in the summer heat, Safety and Training Committee Chairman Michael Wadkins kept his cool while he led the committee through a busy agenda. By staying focused and working efficiently, the committee wrapped up discussions on Saturday evening, eliminating the need for a final session early on Sunday morning.

The committee brought several motions to the full board in the final plenary session on Sunday, many of them aimed at tightening up the certification requirements for USPA Coach Examiners and Instructor Examiners. Effective immediately, the Safety and Training Committee will verify all proficiency cards and supporting documentation submitted for new Coach Examiner or Instructor Examiner ratings. Candidates should make sure that documentation of all requirements is available upon request of the committee.

Some members, particularly those residing outside of the U.S., have asked USPA to provide a digital version of the USPA Instructional Rating Manual. After looking at various options, the committee decided it was time to offer a free PDF download of the manual. Once USPA releases the next print version of the manual, it will also make a PDF file available under the Downloads tab at uspa.org.

The board also decided that USPA will no longer provide PRO-rated skydivers with a stand-alone PRO-rating card. Separate cards are no longer necessary since PRO-rating expiration dates now appear on rating holders’ USPA membership cards and because membership and ratings information is also available online through the USPA portal.

After looking at the new Federal Aviation Administration BasicMed program, the committee did not find it an acceptable equivalent for the FAA Third-Class Medical Certificate that USPA requires of those who hold a USPA Tandem Instructor rating. The board voted to not permit its use in lieu of the Third-Class medical.

Fee Structure Changes
Board members heard from both the Membership Services and Finance and Budget Committees that USPA must increase member dues and fees for licenses and ratings. Simply put, it is getting much more difficult for USPA to balance its annual budgets. More than eight years have passed since any fee increase, and a growing membership requires staffing and services to grow, as well. Though annual inflation is low, the eight years still brought increases in overhead costs that need to be addressed. After vigorous debate, a large majority of the board adopted the staff proposal to increase both individual and Group Member dues by 20 percent, along with similar increases in license and rating fees.

When the new dues go into effect January 1, individual foreign membership dues will increase only slightly to match domestic dues: The cost to join will be $78 and the cost to renew will be $66 for everyone, regardless of where they reside. Along with that change, USPA will no longer mail Parachutist

magazine to foreign addressees (except for Canada and U.S. trusts and territories). Surface mail costs to deliver Parachutist outside the U.S. have risen dramatically, and delivery in many countries has become wholly unreliable. Foreign members can elect to pay an additional $35 for upgraded magazine delivery (basically airmail, which has proven to be much more reliable). Instead of charging astronomical foreign dues so that USPA can airmail every Parachutist magazine, the cost of an airmailed magazine will be optional for foreign members.

The board also approved changes to the introductory membership program. Dues will increase from $20 to $30, and the introductory term will remain three months. Restrictions on other aspects of the introductory membership are being eliminated so anyone can purchase an introductory membership at any time through the USPA member portal.

A full description of USPA’s financials will appear in the October issue of Parachutist.

Competition Action
Competition had only one major topic on the agenda for this meeting: indoor skydiving. In the July issue of Parachutist, the board requested feedback on the topic and very clearly heard the voice of the membership. Therefore, the board adopted a resolution that will pull USPA completely out of anything to do with tunnel flight, despite the adoption of indoor skydiving by the International Parachuting Commission. USPA will instead stand ready to assist any organization that comes forward as a national governing body for tunnel flying.

The committee also considered some questions regarding records involving extreme exit altitudes. The board opted to clarify that aircraft maximum operating altitudes are an inherent part of the Federal Aviation Regulations and that relevant record applications must now contain verification of compliance.

Other Committee Work
After a successful six-month trial, the board decided to extend USPA’s partnership with Sigma. According to a survey and comments made to USPA staff, individual and Group Members have received the program well. Sigma partnered with USPA to generate electronic membership cards (called “merits”). Soon after USPA receives an application, new members receive a Sigma invitation to participate in the program. Current members who are not participating can request merits by contacting Sigma at help@thesigma.com or by calling Jenn Evans at (831) 524-4781.

USPA will hold its triennial board of directors election in 2018. The board voted to shorten the election process to one month, with the next election process beginning October 2018.

The board approved a change to the Group Member Pledge that will require introductory or regular individual USPA membership of all U.S. skydivers cleared for self-supervision. The pledge previously required USPA membership for all licensed skydivers. The change will become effective for all new and renewing Group Memberships in 2018.

USPA Awards
The board selected three members to receive the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service. This award honors outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community. The recipients are Mark Baur, D-6108; Ben Crowell (posthumously), D-15715; and Chuck Karcher, D-9603.

The board also recognized five individuals with the USPA Regional Achievement Award. This award is presented to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the sport on a local or regional level. Recipients are DeWayne Bruette (Gulf Region), Harry Ervin (Southern Region), Miles Hubbard (North Central Region) and Marilyn and Douglas Wuest (Western Region).

The board meets next in San Antonio, Texas, March 2-4, 2018. 

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