Season of Change

The newly elected USPA Board of Directors met in Daytona Beach, Florida, March 22-24 for the first meeting of its term. The election produced a 32 percent turnover on the board, and the new board’s election of the six officers that make up the Executive Committee produced a 50 percent turnover with three new officers. And of the three returning officers, only one, Vice President Randy Allison, retained his previous seat.The board elected Sherry Butcher, a member of the board since 2001, as USPA’s president for the three-year term. It also selected Jay Stokes, president for the past two terms, as chairman of the board. New board member Ray Lallo is now the association’s secretary, while returning board member Albert Berchtold is serving as treasurer. Rounding out the Executive Committee is Tom Noonan, elected after an absence from the board, as the committee’s member at large. Additionally, the board elected Kirk Verner to serve a second term as delegate to the International Parachuting Commission. The Executive Committee immediately got up to speed on several pending Federal Aviation Administration actions that could impact skydiving and discussed what USPA is doing about them.

With officer elections complete, the next order of business was determining the makeup of USPA’s seven standing committees. It is the president’s prerogative to appoint the committee chairs, and President Butcher got right to work announcing her picks. The committee chairs then selected up to six voting members for each committee from among the full board. Additionally, Butcher selected Todd Spillers to chair the meeting of regional directors that always occurs at board meetings.

FEATURE20136-18The 2013-2015 USPA Board of Directors. For a complete list of committee members and advisors, go to Photo by Randy Connell.

With Lee Schlichtemeier’s retirement after serving 14 years as treasurer, the board handed USPA’s bank and investment statements (which showed that USPA’s three reserve accounts had grown substantially under Schlichtemeier) over to Berchtold, the new treasurer. Berchtold’s Finance & Budget Committee spent its meeting reviewing the protocols necessary to meet Internal Revenue Service scrutiny while maintaining USPA’s nonprofit status. The committee is also preparing to review the annual audit of USPA finances.

Butcher tapped Rich Winstock, with one term under his belt as a member of the Safety & Training Committee, to be its new chairman. The first meeting for the committee proved to be challenging, but Winstock kept it on track and moving forward. Even though the agenda was relatively light, the committee addressed several very important topics.

The group discussed a proposal to change the current camera recommendation from a minimum of a USPA C License (200 jumps) before jumping with any camera to read, “at least 100 jumps and a USPA Coach rating.” After a short discussion, no one brought the motion forward for a vote, so USPA retained its original recommendation.

The committee (and subsequently the full board) passed a motion to change the USPA disciplinary action process contained in Section 1-6 of the Governance Manual. Now, once an allegation of a Basic Safety Requirement violation is brought to a regional director, the director will investigate the allegation, monitored by a small task force consisting of four other board members and the director of safety and training. The board anticipates that having the same group of directors address all disciplinary actions will ensure that each investigation receives an equal level of attention and that subsequent decisions and actions will become more consistent.

Finally, the committee addressed the biggest and probably most controversial agenda item to come through the Safety & Training Committee since the adoption of the Accelerated Freefall method of training more than 30 years ago. After gathering additional input from the membership following the last meeting, at this meeting the board revisited the proposal to adopt a USPA wingsuit instructor rating (which would require anyone making a first wingsuit flight to receive training from a USPA-rated wingsuit instructor). After a great deal of discussion among the committee members, comments from the gallery and input from several online polls, the committee voted to adopt the rating. However, in the plenary session, the full board repeated the whole process and heard additional comments and arguments from two very spirited but divided groups. When the dust settled and the board counted the votes, the motion failed. Then, the board voted on a last-second motion proposing the adoption of a USPA wingsuit coach rating, which also failed. And finally, the board tabled a proposal to adopt a new BSR that would require anyone teaching a first wingsuit jump to hold a USPA Coach rating and have made at least 200 wingsuit jumps. The discussion will continue this July at the board meeting in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Scott Smith retained leadership of the committee, and he and the committee members immediately began working through their immense agenda. The committee selected Randy Connell as judging advisor and Tamara Koyn as the official USPA Nationals archivist, recognizing her dedication to a task that she has performed unofficially for years.

The committee discussed the results of the most recent IPC meeting and reviewed its competition rule changes for various events. The committee voted to adopt the changes (which, as of May, are reflected in the USPA Skydiver’s Competition Manual). At its meeting, the IPC also relaxed experience requirements for Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Judge ratings, but the Competition Committee decided not to change USPA’s current judge requirements, although it will consider waivers for judge candidates on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, the Competition Committee discussed the new IPC-wingsuit-record test plan and will encourage wingsuit event organizers to submit their USPA records to the IPC working group, as well. The committee also discussed the IPC decision to adopt wind tunnel competitions (which USPA will not be involved with at this time).

Moving on to non-IPC-related topics, the committee approved a 2-way vertical formation skydiving test event starting with the 2013 Nationals at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, in September. The dive pool is available with the Skydiver’s Competition Manual at The committee also considered bidders for various events. The full board subsequently awarded the 2014 National Skydiving Championships to Skydive Chicago; the 2014 Canopy Piloting Championships to Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida and the 2014 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships to Skydive Arizona in Eloy.

The committee adopted two new record categories for large-formation skydiving: head-up vertical formation skydiving and sequential formation skydiving. During the next board meeting, the committee will reconsider a proposal for a docked wingsuit formation record category after it clarifies the language regarding grips.

Finally, the committee approved restructuring the U.S. Parachute Team Inc.’s board of directors to make the team more attractive and responsive to potential corporate sponsors. It also discussed updating the by-laws to make them more applicable for non-member organizations and consistent with its original articles of incorporation. The USPT Inc.’s board will now contain a maximum of seven to nine members, comprised of the USPA Executive Committee, the chair of the Competition Committee and two others determined by recommendation of the new USPT Inc. Board with approval from the USPA Board of Directors.

Randy Allison continued chairing the Group Membership Committee, which primarily focuses on drop zone issues. USPA Director of Government Relations Randy Ottinger briefed the committee on current FAA issues including the proposed parachute landing area standard, which the FAA expects to issue soon. Regarding airport access issues, the FAA is expected to issue determinations in three Part 16 complaints by mid-June. USPA’s Airport Access Defense (AAD) Fund has partially supported two of the complaints.

The committee also discussed USPA’s desire to help consumers identify those DZs that offer full-service training and gave approval to a revised Training Center program, which does just that. (A more detailed report on the revised program appears on page 49 of this issue.)

Committee Chair Tony Thacker and members received an update from USPA staff on its new membership software. The membership department planned to institute the first phase (staff moving to the new association management software) in May. Once the staff becomes accustomed to the new software, it will give individual members access to many of its features. As the staff phases in the new AMS, members should notice an improvement in USPA’s service.

The committee members also reviewed insurance claims paid out in the past year through the membership third-party policy. Claims based on canopy control have declined in the past year, and the committee members believe the implementation of the canopy card for new B-license holders has been instrumental in this decline.

Committee members received a proposal from headquarters to create a new level of USPA service awards (see Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 8) to recognize outstanding individuals from specific regions. USPA gives its two current awards (the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award and USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Achievement) to individuals who have had an impact on a national level. Committee members are working on the details of the new award and hope to present a final version for approval at the next board meeting.

The new committee members, chaired by Jan Meyer, received an in-depth report from USPA staff in regard to the past election. Staff reported that, compared to the 2010 election, voting participation decreased and the number of paper ballots submitted increased. Although USPA implemented electronic voting in 2010, it attributes the increase in paper ballots in 2012 to having two regions that lacked official candidates, which drove write-in campaigns. Staff also reported that online voting resulted in no errors, while 15 percent of paper ballots contained election errors.

Based on the information provided, the committee members will be considering changes to future elections. These changes may include shortening the entire election process, altering the start of the elections to occur earlier in the year and shortening the actual time ballots may be submitted. Any changes to the election timetable would require a proxy vote by USPA members and coordination with other USPA committees, as well as coordination with the Parachute Industry Association.

Also chaired by Meyer, this temporary group is tasked with reviewing the USPA Governance Manual. Its members will review the structure and standardize the format. Task force members will address any inconsistencies or omissions after the initial revision.

The group may also propose the addition of two committees (Regional Directors and Governance) to the current list of standing committees located in the bylaws (Article VIII, Section 2). If accepted, the creation of a Governance Committee would prompt the removal of the Nominations & Elections Committee from this list.

The USPA Board of Directors has scheduled its next meeting for July 26-28 in Fredericksburg, Virginia. More information is available


Farewell to Departing Board Members

As it welcomed the 2013 USPA Board of Directors, USPA also said goodbye to seven departing members. These seven members collectively served on the board for a remarkable 100 years. Each is living behind a legacy that will benefit skydivers for years to come.

FEATURE20136-13Jessie Farrington
Jessie Farrington served as Northwest Regional Director for 14 years. She chaired the meeting of Regional Directors at board meetings and was also a member of the Safety & Training and Group Membership Committees. She brought her experience and expertise in skydiving instruction and drop zone operation to the board, acting as a strong proponent of education over regulation.

FEATURE20136-14Vic Johnson
Vic Johnson served three terms as Southern Regional Director, acting as chair of the Membership Services Committee. In this capacity, he worked to serve the best interests of USPA members, while also trying to help USPA grow and improve as an association. He advocated the start of online voting for USPA Board elections and also was a member of the Finance & Budget Committee.

FEATURE20136-15Marylou Laughlin
Marylou Laughlin served as Northeast Regional Director since 1999. As a member of the Competition Committee, she also served as USPA’s delegate to the International Parachuting Commission for nine years, as well as International Parachuting Commission Vice President, the chair of the IPC Canopy Formation Committee and a member of the IPC Canopy Piloting Committee. She was a member of eight U.S. Parachute Teams competing in style and accuracy and para-ski. More recently, she turned her competition expertise toward judging, acting as chief judge for multiple national and world championships.

FEATURE20136-16Lee Schlichtemeier
Lee Schlichtemeier served as Southwest Regional Director for 16 years, acting as chair of the Finance & Budget Committee. As USPA Treasurer beginning in 1999, he worked tirelessly to manage USPA’s investments, which increased 150 percent in value over 14 years. He also managed the U.S. Team Trust Fund and served as a longtime adviser to the Competition Committee.

FEATURE20136-17Craig Stapleton
Craig Stapleton served two terms as Pacific Regional Director. As a U.S. Team member and a current and active competitor in canopy formation skydiving, he brought his knowledge and passion to the Competition Committee, helping to look out for the interests of skydiving competitors. He was also on the Membership Services Committee.

FEATURE20136-18Bill Wenger
Bill Wenger served two different stints—1993 to 2000 and 2009 to 2012—for a total of 12 years as the Mountain Regional Director. He acted as chair of the Competition Committee for many of those years. A member of the Golden Knights’ first gold-medal-winning 8-way team, and later well known as the coach of the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue skydiving team and a longtime style and accuracy competitor, Wenger brought his love of skydiving competition to the board, always looking out for the best interests of competitors. He pitched in at many USPA Nationals and Collegiates as meet director and meet controller.

FEATURE20136-19B.J. Worth
B.J. Worth’s contributions to the board of directors and USPA cannot be overstated. As a National Director for an unmatched 34 years, he served as USPA President for four years, Chairman of the Board for 10 years and IPC delegate for 20 years. During his tenure on the board, he organized the Olympic rings skydiving exhibition for the 1988 Seoul Olympics opening ceremony; organized the World Team 400-way world record; led USPA’s efforts to gain sponsorship for the USPA Nationals and was a strong proponent of sport promotion efforts; spearheaded the association’s efforts to offer online voting for board elections; and organized many other events and projects to showcase skydiving to the world. He has been the chair of the Nominations & Elections Committee and a member of the Competition Committee.



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