Tough Decisions

I t would be difficult to find a sport that has improved its safety record as dramatically as skydiving. Improvements in equipment and training have combined to dramatically reduce the fatality index rate from nearly six fatal accidents per 100,000 skydives in the early 1960s to 0.6 fatal accidents per 100,000 skydives in 2012. During that same timeframe, the number of skydives made increased 500 percent, from 600,000 per year in the early 1960s to 3 million per year in 2011. In approximately 50 years, the index rate for fatal skydiving accidents has improved by a factor of 10. more »

So, You Want to Open a DZ?

So, you love skydiving and spend most of your spare time at your home drop zone. Perhaps you even make decent money working at the DZ, and life is good. Or you have an uninspiring job that pays the bills but keeps you away from your favorite pastime. For one reason or another, it may occur to you: Why not leverage all the knowledge, experience and connections and turn them into a cool lifestyle others only dream about? Of course, opening a DZ is not simple, but with the right attitude, perseverance and a little help, it can be a rewarding experience. more »

Too Big To Fail

Organizer Bill Halsey looked at the new jumper joining the vertical-formation dirt dive and said, "Where should I put you?" The new jumper, jumpsuit tied loosely around his waist, put his hands on his hips, shrugged and casually answered, “You can put me anywhere. I can fly any slot.” more »

Dropping In after Dropping Out

There are legions of retired and semi-retired skydivers who haven’t been upstairs in weeks, months or even years but suddenly get the urge to strap on their gear and head out to the DZ. Sometimes the returnees are students or novices who simply ran out of money during their initial training, but increasingly frequently they're licensed skydivers with considerable experience who were sidetracked for years by a demanding job or too many kids’ soccer games. For them, it may take only a whiff of jet A on a sunny summer day to get their skydiving juices flowing again. more »

Back-Fly

Learning to back-fly is often the first step a jumper takes when learning to freefly, whether in the air or wind tunnel. The back-flying position offers incredible versatility in flying speeds and gives a jumper the ability to fly with anyone from belly to head-down flyers. This versatility also makes it an excellent recovery position when learning to fly in positions such as the sit, stand or head down, since the flyer is able to “fall off” the position without rapid deceleration (called “corking”), which is hazardous to others nearby and must be avoided. more »

A Jump for the Ages

FELIX BAUMGARTNER SETS WORLD RECORDS WITH HIGH-ALTITUDE LEAP

In a sport defined by superlatives and firsts, it is rare that a jump deserves the title “historic.” In fact, there may be only a few that deserve the distinction. One such jump is certainly the long, lonely leap Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger made on August 16, 1960, from an open gondola suspended under a helium balloon 102,800 feet above sea level. Another—the spectacularly public Red Bull Stratos jump that Austrian Felix Baumgartner made from 128,100 feet above sea level near Roswell, New Mexico, on October 14—occurred 52 years later. more »

Starting a Tradition: The First 8-Woman Star

The year 1969 was a happy time to be skydiving. Relative work (now called formation skydiving) was uniting the men and women of the sport as they had never united before. Jumpers were frolicking in the sky, at times laughing out loud in freefall from the ultimate joy of flying free—together! Everything was new. more »

On the Line: Succeeding in 4-Way

Part 6 of 6—Putting It All Together

Committing to a 4-way team requires a great deal of dedication and sacrifice. Unfortunately, many teams begin their training thinking that if they jump a lot they will advance quickly. This is not the case. Making a lot of jumps without a clear training plan will frequently result in a team feeling like it is just spinning its wheels. The members are putting in the effort but not seeing results. The team may advance in bits and pieces, but the pieces don’t fit together, and the points don’t add up. more »

On the Line: Succeeding in 4-Way

Part 5 of 6—Jump Preparation (Dirt Diving) and Debriefing

During jump preparation, a team should repeatedly practice team communication skills and personal flying skills, habits and discipline. It is during this process that a team has the best opportunity to develop and train the correct behavior so that it becomes almost instinctual. For this reason, it is crucial for the team to perform each skill correctly every time. If the members are complacent about this, the team will inevitably perform the skills incorrectly as many times as it does correctly and will have ingrained the wrong behaviors. The team will be repeating the exercises either way, so be sure to do them right. more »

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Tales from Skydiving in the '60s: Part II

Gear, attitudes and disciplines have evolved over the years. “We are experiencing an entirely different skydiving mentality today than was present during the last part of the 20th century,” says USPA lifetime member Charles Baldauf, D-3307. more »