Jumping from 30,000 Feet

When Leonardo da Vinci so eloquently said, “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return,” he must have had skydivers in mind. (After all, he did invent the first parachute.) In any event, the modern-day corollary, in less elegant terms, might go something like, “Have you ever turned your eyes skyward, observed the contrail of an airliner and wondered what it would be like to jump from that high?” more »

Angle Flying: Guidelines for Safe Progression

Should the angle group go first or last on this load? Does the leader have a plan? Can I trust the group won’t fly up the line of flight? How do we deal with multiple angle-flying groups on one load? Why did a group open so close to me? more »

Safer Than Ever: Improving Tandem Skydiving

Tandem skydiving has come a long way in the last three decades. The manufacturers learned how to make reliable and secure tandem parachute systems, tandem instructor examiners learned how to properly train skydivers to become skilled and knowledgeable tandem instructors, and drop zone owners learned how to manage their tandem programs to efficiently train and jump with a seemingly never-ending supply of tandem students. After more than 30 years of trial and error, tandem skydiving is now perfect! Well... almost perfect. more »

Superior Formation Accident Revisited

The filing cabinet had barely clicked shut on the National Transportation Safety Board’s investigation of the spectacular mid-air collision of two aircraft flying in formation at Skydive Superior in late 2013, when far worse occurred: In August, two L-410 turboprops hauling skydivers for a formation load collided over Slovakia, killing four crew and three skydivers. Thirty-one skydivers exited and survived. more »

Gear Fear? Know Your Rig!

Think you know your parachute? Emerging features and added complexity can create a dangerous knowledge gap. This two-part report challenges you to recognize and understand the details of your particular rig and rethink your settings and operating procedures. more »

Grand Finale

For decades, USPA’s board members served two-year terms and attended four board meetings between elections. In 2012, the USPA membership approved three-year terms starting with the 2013-2015 board. The July 24-26 meeting in Hartford, Connecticut, was the sixth and final meeting of that board before the fall elections. more »

Project Strato-Jump I, II, and III

Photos by Phil Chiocchio

One spring day in the early 1960s, Nick Piantanida traveled to the recently opened Lakewood Parachute Center in New Jersey to watch people jumping and knew instantly that he wanted to get involved. He soon began taking lessons and jumping regularly. Parachuting became Piantanida’s new passion, and he earned D-778 in November 1964. Skydiving was more rewarding than anything he had done before. It started him on a journey to become a remarkable high achiever, and it altered the direction and purpose of his life in ways he never foresaw. more »

Getting Past the Door Monster

New skydivers often need help to get through a seemingly impenetrable barrier of fear, especially the common obstacle that many people have affectionately termed the “Door Monster.” Although no single answer helps everyone, solutions do exist. more »

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

In the third century BC, Aristotle penned the timeless words, “The more I know, the more I know I don’t know.” Since then, countless people in numerous time periods have restated this realization using various wording. Aristotle’s statement and the others like it are the hallmark of those who are recovering casualties of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, a phenomenon explored in a series of experiments by David Dunning and Justin Kruger at the Cornell University Department of Psychology in 1999. These experiments—reportedly inspired by a bank robber who knew that lemon juice could be used as invisible ink and covered his face in it thinking it would render him invisible—set out to test a human psychological trait many before have witnessed: People with below average skill or knowledge tend to grossly overestimate their own abilities. more »

A Welcome Winter Respite

From March 27–29, the USPA Board of Directors gathered in Daytona Beach, Florida, for the fifth meeting of its three-year term alongside the 2015 Parachute Industry Association Symposium. Since many on the board left behind frigid temperatures—and in some cases, feet of snow—it’s no surprise that they welcomed the area’s warm weather and spring-break atmosphere, even though most sat on committees with packed agendas that kept them busy indoors much of the time. more »