Inventing, Building and Designing Solutions — Bill Jones Receives the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service

October 8 at Skydive Arizona in Eloy, USPA President Jay Stokes presented Bill Jones, D-924, the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service. The crowd of longtime friends and associates included eight of his children (out of 11) and one grandchild (out of 21). more »

Out of Sight, Out of Frame: Using a Ring Sight

Skydivers who use cameras typically mount their equipment to their helmets in order to keep their hands clear to maneuver in freefall and operate their parachute systems. Looking through the camera’s viewfinder to aim and center the shot is not an option, so jumpers need to implement alternatives. Enter the ring sight. more »

Priorities of Work for Formation Skydiving

Priorities of work is the concept that in almost any situation there are things you should focus on before worrying about other things. The idea comes up often in sayings and books: “It makes no sense to start painting the house before you have the foundation set.” And, “Put first things first,” is habit three in Steven Covey’s “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Organizations like the U.S. military use the term “priorities of work” to describe this process of prioritization. It is also a concept that applies well to skydiving.

The idea seems simple, but how many times have you seen a person so focused on getting grips that he reaches down while above the formation and flips over and into it? Or seen someone below the formation who reaches, causing him to arch more and fall away? These jumpers skipped the priorities of work. more »

Without A Parachute—Luke Aikins Dares The Impossible And Succeeds

When Luke Aikins jumped from 25,000 feet without a parachute on July 30 and landed safely, it put him in the company of those who achieved other epic breakthroughs in skydiving—Joseph Kittinger leaping from 102,800 feet, Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier, Gary Connery landing a wingsuit—with one caveat: Aikins’ jump wasn’t technically a skydive. Skydiving is the act of jumping from an aircraft with a parachute (the “P” in USPA), which of course Aikins didn’t have. Still, skydiving made it possible.

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Action Camera Placement

With point-of-view cameras now an integral part of our sport, we’re seeing more instances where these cameras are affecting safety in a very negative way. Most country’s skydiving organizations demand a sensible minimum experience level of 200 jumps or more before skydivers can use any type of camera, and not without reason. (USPA recommends that jumpers hold a USPA C license and have made 50 jumps on the same parachute equipment used for camera flying.) In skydiving—and BASE jumping, as well—many dangerous situations and even deadly accidents have occurred when a pilot chute or other part of a jumper’s gear wrapped around a camera. As when dealing with all problems in life, prevention is best.
Here’s some advice about placing your camera. more »

How to Become a USPA Instructor Examiner

So, you have been an instructor for quite some time, have all of this knowledge and experience and would like to pass it on to the new generation of coaches and instructors. Congratulations! You are now ready to advance to the sport’s university level by achieving USPA’s highest instructional rating, the examiner rating (coach examiner or instructor examiner).

Of all rating courses, examiner courses are the ones that jumpers are most confused about. Many believe that taking an Instructor Examiner Rating Course alone will make someone an examiner. The truth is that it is just one of the many requirements. more »

Why Stall?

Anyone who takes a quick look at the USPA Canopy Piloting Proficiency Card (the completion of which is required to receive a B license) will notice that most of the maneuvers are of the slow-flight variety. The big question jumpers always ask is, “Why do I need to perform stalls? What practical application does it offer?” Learning more about slow flight and stalls not only prepares you to land your parachute better, but also teaches you just how versatile your wing can be. more »

I Want to Become a USPA Coach. Now What?

So, you have decided that you want to become a USPA Coach? What a great goal! With a Coach rating you get to give back to the sport that you love so much. You get to pass on your knowledge, experience and passion to new skydivers. The course is a great experience because it touches on so many topics and gives you a new perspective on the sport … the perspective of a teacher! more »

Introducing ... the Make-a-Save Campaign!

Skydivers depend on their equipment to survive every jump. Every. Single. Jump. Given such high stakes, are we doing everything possible to be sure our gear is up to the task? The accident reports seem to indicate we aren’t, year after year.
A quick look at data since 1999 reveals that simple gear checks could have prevented as many as 20 fatalities. That’s roughly five percent of the total fatalities during that same timeframe. Five percent may not seem like much, but it sure does matter to those who lost friends and loved ones to tragic accidents that could have been easily prevented. more »

Determining your minimum opening altitude

Determining a minimum opening altitude is an important decision that every jumper should make, but it’s not as simple as looking at USPA’s Basic Safety Requirements or other national organizations’ regulations. Over the last decade, an average of two jumpers per year have died after their automatic activation devices activated their reserve parachutes at altitudes insufficient for full reserve deployment. With an estimated 200 to 300 actual AAD saves per year, chances are greater than 99 percent that an AAD will fire in time to save the life of a jumper who has failed to activate a parachute. However, close to one in 100 do not survive because the reserve did not fully open above ground level. It is likely that many of these fatalities could have been avoided if the jumpers had used higher AAD-activation-altitude settings. more »