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 »

Artistic Camera

Forming a team for artistic freefly competitions can be immensely rewarding and productive. Structured training and commitment to a competition deadline can keep you focused and push your skills farther than casual skydiving. However, putting together a competent and coherent routine and flying it consistently is not easy. In fact, it is so hard that it can put people off to the point that they do something rash and irresponsible like join a belly-flying team.

A freestyle or freefly team's camera flyer may be the member of the team with the most work to do. A little insight may help you get started off right and enable you to achieve as much as possible during your training.  more »

POPS Turns Phifty

The Parachutists Over Phorty Society celebrated its 50th anniversary at its annual POPS SpringFest at Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales March 16-20. As the organization celebrates the milestone year, it still fosters the same principles that brought together the original band of aging skydivers in 1966: to promote safety, camaraderie and good, clean fun while skydiving. The dedication of POPS members throughout the U.S. and around the world is the secret to the group’s longevity. Those who join POPS find themselves united with virtual strangers who instantly look upon them as friends. more »

Good Canopies, Bad Decisions

This article was originally published at houston.skydivespaceland.com and is reprinted with the permission of the author and Skydive Spaceland—Houston in Rosharon, Texas. more »