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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Up is the New Down

Remember the days when it seemed like all everyone wanted to do was learn to fly head down so they could join the cool kids on jumps? Well, the cool kids have flipped it right side up and stepped it up a notch. Head-up angle jumps and sit-flying formations seem to be spreading like dust devils in the Arizona summer. And big-way head-up jumps are becoming more popular than ever. more »

The Next Big Thing

Andy Malchiodi—neck deep in his multi-hyphenate (medalist-coach-musician-filmmaker) life—didn’t set out to co-invent a skydiving discipline. He just wanted to enjoy competition. Luckily for us, he did it anyway. He’s quick to refuse to take credit for being the first person to combine flat and vertical orientations into one discipline, but there’s no denying that he’s the one who has done the most to make it official.

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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 »