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 »

Parachutes Incorporated: The Genesis of Commercial Skydiving

Where would skydiving be without innovation? Take a look at where you jump and the equipment you use and you will begin to understand how innovators have shaped every aspect of our sport. more »

How to Execute a Perfect PLF

The parachute landing fall—“PLF” for short—came about when the biff-tastic round canopy was the only way down and a bona fide fall was the only way to land. The PLF reduced the incidence and severity of injury and was part of the required first-jump training for all parachutists. Even though later-generation round canopies such as the Para-Commander had design details that allowed for better landings, a PLF was still a jumper’s best bet on most occasions. more »

Freeflying: Where to Start?

What do you think of when you think of freeflying? Freedom in the sky? No rules? No judgments? This concept of freeflying entices many skydivers to the discipline. more »

Basics - The 2014 Fatality Summary

Don’t run into anyone in freefall or under canopy, quickly release an uncontrollable spinning main parachute, wear a functioning automatic activation device and reserve static line, and make your final turn under canopy with plenty of altitude to complete it. If 20 of the 24 people who died skydiving in the U.S. in 2014 had done so, they would still be alive today. Compared to past years, 2014 could have been worse, but it’s still a pity for our sport and our friends that so many of the deaths were so easily preventable. more »

More Than Just a Sign-Off

photos by Samantha Schwann

Training for intentional and unintentional water landings is an important part of a skydiver’s learning progression and is required to receive the USPA B license. Unfortunately, most jumpers rarely give it much thought after their instructors sign them off for this skill, and few take the time to carefully consider the dangers involved. more »

Damage Control for Unwitting Christmas Ornaments

illustrations by Alex Wakefield

Christmas ornaments are lovely, aren’t they? These colorful baubles that swing gaily from the bushy branches of a fragrant fir can make our little hearts sing. more »

Entrepreneurship in the Industry

Compared to other industries, skydiving is a relatively small market and therefore would likely be dominated by a few “category-killer” companies. However, the opposite is true: The industry is full of small, lean companies led by focused and passionate people. The individuals in this article make their livings ensuring that planes fly, gear fits and apparel matches the passion. At their core, skydiving companies are like any other small businesses. Starting out requires a leap of faith (like Tom Grayson betting his life savings on SAFEish) and the ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles (like Rich Grimm, though his obstacles were unusual in scale). more »

What is a Team?

Most big challenges are difficult to accomplish flying solo. It’s possible to achieve great things completely on your own without any support, but it’s usually not the best strategy for success. Pursuing an ambitious goal will more likely lead to success and be more rewarding—whether you reach the goal or not—if you do so with a team. more »

A Healthy Disrespect for the Impossible

At seven seconds past 7:00 on Friday morning, October 24, 2014, near Roswell, New Mexico, Alan Eustace lifted from the earth under a massive stratospheric balloon and ascended nearly 26 miles to the edge of space. A few hours later, at 135,891 feet MSL, he dropped away from the balloon and with little fanfare (his team had purposely avoided publicity) broke Felix Baumgartner’s world record for highest skydive set during the Red Bull Stratos Project almost exactly two years earlier. Along with the high-altitude record, Eustace set two other Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records: highest vertical speed and longest distance of fall using a drogue. The feat took skydiving enthusiasts—and the world—by surprise. Few expected anyone to so quickly best what had once been such a longstanding high-altitude record. After all, Baumgartner’s 127,852-foot jump took place a full 52 years after Joseph Kittinger, then a young Air Force captain, leapt from 102,800 feet and into the record books. more »