Up Is the New Down—Part 2: Movement Jumps

By Sharon Har-Noy with contributions from Claudio Cagnasso, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez and Luis Prinetto. Photos by Gustavo Cabana.

In the film “Crosswind” by Patrick Passe, Omar Alhegelan is mind-blowing as he elegantly whizzes around the sky on his feet. (If you consider yourself a freeflyer but have never seen “Crosswind,” put down this magazine for an hour and go online to do your homework.) When the film came out in 2001, you could count on one hand the number of people who could pull off something like that, but today it’s common to see feet-first angle jumps at most events. It’s great that jumpers are finally catching up to what the pioneers were doing 16 years ago, but with so much freefall traffic and so many people trying new things, it’s essential for everyone to learn how to be safe so we can keep on playing. more »

Have You Checked Your Six?

“Check your six”: a popular military expression meaning, “Check your six o’clock position” (the spot directly behind you).


Every day, high-performance-wing technology moves forward and canopy pilots push the envelope harder than ever. Where high-performance landings were once the domain of a few, the availability of better technology, faster wings and expert canopy coaching have made them an everyday sight at drop zones around the world. XRW (mixed canopy piloting and wingsuit formations), competitive canopy piloting and other extreme canopy flights that require small canopies, high wing loadings and great speeds were once on the periphery of the sport but are now increasingly common. more »

Lee Schlichtemeier Receives the 2016 USPA Lifetime Achievement Award

Steady, Solid and Dependable. The USPA Drop Zone Operators’ Conference, held every two years in conjunction with the Parachute Industry Association Symposium, always kicks off with a reception for DZOs and various skydiving VIPs. At this year’s reception on February 12,  USPA gave special recognition to one of those VIPs—Dr. Alvin Lee Schlichtemeier—by presenting him with the association’s highest honor, the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Skydiving-Related Aircraft Accidents 2016

Because skydiving is dependent on aircraft, it’s essential to understand the risk of the ride to altitude. One way to evaluate that risk is to review recent jump plane accidents. Philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Jumpers should encourage their jump pilots to take Santayana’s advice and read these reports so they can learn from our history. more »

2016 Fatality Summary—The Same Problems

During 2016, the United States Parachute Association recorded 21 skydiving deaths in the U.S. This is the same number of deaths as in 2015 and slightly below the average for the last 10 years. While there were four student deaths, experienced skydivers still accounted for most of the fatalities, with the jumpers who died in 2016 averaging 1,600 skydives. more »

Brimming With Hospitality—The Winter 2017 USPA Board of Directors Meeting

Chattanooga, Tennessee, is known for its popular hang gliding training center, world-renowned aquarium and one of the world’s steepest passenger railways. The Scenic City—brimming with southern hospitality—was the perfect host for the 2017 USPA Board of Directors’ winter meeting held February 10-12. more »

Airmanship for Canopy Pilots

The aviation-safety website Skybrary.aero defines airmanship as "the consistent use of good judgment and well-developed skills to accomplish flight objectives. This consistency is founded on a cornerstone of uncompromising flight discipline and is developed through systematic skill acquisition and proficiency. A high state of situational awareness completes the airmanship picture and is obtained through knowledge of one's self, aircraft, environment, team and risk."

Airmanship is a trait to which skydivers should also aspire to obtain mastery, especially with relation to canopy flight. As an aircraft pilot should be aware of his aircraft, the environment in which the aircraft operates and his own capabilities, skydivers must possess awareness and discipline when flying canopies. A pilot has many tools to help with flying safely, including the co-pilot, radio contact with air traffic control and others, radar and the ability to go around or power down and up to avoid airspace conflicts. Canopy pilots do not have the luxury of powered flight: Takeoffs are optional, but landings are mandatory. We need to rely on our own skill and the awareness and skill of others to avoid airspace conflicts. more »

How to Nail a Gear Check

Let me ask you this: When was the last time that you saw the pilot running down a safety checklist on the jump plane? If you’re paying attention, you certainly have (or at least seen the clipboard stuffed somewhere in the cockpit, lookin’ official). Metal-tube pilots have an actual checklist they run down to confirm the safety of the gear that heaves us all up into the sky. That’s a great idea—it’s a reasonably complicated system, and a checklist ensures that nothing’s forgotten. more »

Military Aviation's Lessons for Skydivers

Every day, Naval aviators take to the sky to train for the time when they may have to fly into combat. Military and other high-performance aircraft operate at the edge of the envelope. Maximum performance comes from operating on the envelope’s edge, which means there is little to no margin for error. This has created the need for a robust safety system in Naval aviation. Other industries have adopted these principles and practices, and they are equally relevant to skydiving. Right out of the gate, the Navy indoctrinates its aviators into a safety culture. For good reason: Pilots die more often in training mishaps than from enemy actions. This safety training—which aviators learn and discuss throughout their careers—includes lessons on the Swiss-cheese-mishap model, normalization of deviance, complacency and risk management. But how does this apply to skydiving?

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Parachute Flight Dynamics

The goal of any skilled canopy pilot is to take command of the parachute system so as to dictate his location under the wing at any given time. To become a more proficient canopy pilot, it's important to understand that the jumper is not separate from the canopy but is in fact part of an integrated system. Without delving too much into design specifics of parachutes, let's examine how a jumper's choices and actions affect the system as a whole. For example: Though turning low to the ground is not advisable, it is also not inherently dangerous. In fact, such a maneuver may be necessary to avoid danger, and what matters most in such a situation is how the jumper performs the turn. As with many things in flight, the lifesaving move may be counterintuitive.

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