The Normalization of Deviance

There is a popular old anecdote about placing a frog into a pot of water. If the water is boiling, the frog immediately senses the danger and jumps right out. But if the water is cold and heats up slowly, the frog stays in the pot and boils to death, never realizing that the environment had become dangerous and life threatening.

Frequently, staff and regular jumpers at drop zones all across the country proclaim that their DZs are “super safe” and have great safety cultures. Thankfully, this is actually true at most drop zones. But USPA occasionally receives a complaint (usually from a visiting jumper or one of the regulars who suddenly had an epiphany) about a drop zone that most of the locals seem to think is very safe when it is actually operating in an unsafe manner. Why is that? more »

Wingsuit Rules and Recommendations

Wingsuiting continues to gain in popularity every year. And why not? Sailing through the skies like a glider is a lot of fun! The discipline is attracting lots of jumpers, with a continual influx of new wingsuit flyers joining the ranks. However, not all news related to wingsuiting has been good news, and those who participate in the discipline continue to struggle in some areas, including:

  • Adhering to rules and regulations for cloud clearances
  • Exit procedures
  • Flying safe patterns that avoid aircraft and allow for landing at the drop zone landing area

Christmas Cameras

So Santa dropped a shiny new GoPro under the tree, and you are just dying to start jumping with it, right? Well, dying to jump with it could literally be the case, so be sure you are ready for the added challenges before you slap that thing on your helmet on the first warm day of the season. Jumping with a video camera involves challenges, many of which are not obvious to those who decide to start jumping with one. USPA recommends that anyone jumping with a camera hold at least a USPA C license (200 jumps), but jump numbers are not the only consideration. Before you start, check out Section 6-8 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual, which includes lots of helpful information. more »

Spotting

For many jumpers, spotting means looking to make sure the green light is on before tossing themselves from the door without so much as a look down to see where they are above the planet. Many seem so trusting of the green light that even if a pilot were to fly five miles out to sea and turn it on, it’s likely they would just blindly bail out and go for a swim. Thankfully, our jump pilots are not that cruel. more »

Specialty Jumps

Specialty jumps—whether from a helicopter or balloon or with a raft or other inflatable toy—are skydiver favorites. And while these jumps are always good for excitement and giggles, they also require a little extra vigilance to keep the level of safety where it needs to be. more »

Logging Jumps

If you make a skydive and don’t make a note of it in a logbook, did the jump really take place? Sure it did, but how do you prove it years from now when you need to show proof of your jump numbers for a license or rating? more »

Aircraft Knowledge

A group of 24 jumpers boards a Twin Otter and the last one to board can’t find a seatbelt. So two jumpers share a belt so everyone is belted in for takeoff. The jumpers think this is OK, and the pilot has no idea what’s happening because he can’t see what is going on in the back of the plane.
The left main tire on a Cessna 182 is bald. In spite of complaints to the drop zone owner from the Safety and Training Advisor, the DZO and pilot continue to fly the airplane load after load. The tire finally pops. Luckily, it blows while the plane is taxiing to the runway.

How much do you know and understand about the airplane you jump from every weekend? more »

Public Jumps

Performers often hear “Break a leg!” before the start of a performance, but it’s not really what a skydiver wants to do during a demo. Almost all of us have thought about making a demo jump of some sort, whether jumping into a party out in the middle of nowhere or jumping into a 70,000-seat NFL stadium. Landing your parachute in front of a crowd of non-skydivers is a lot of fun, and who wouldn’t want to have a chance to be a rock star for a day? But jumping into places outside of your regular drop zone can be tricky. Demos require proper planning and execution—including adherence to Federal Aviation Administration Regulations and USPA Basic Safety Requirements—to ensure that the jumps are successful. more »

Forgery

You completed all of your license requirements and are ready to send the form to USPA … but wait! You didn’t get the Safety and Training Advisor’s signature on your license application. Bummer. You really want to get that license sent in and processed in time to make those helicopter jumps, but the S&TA is not available. Well, nobody is watching, so you forge the S&TA’s signature and send in the license application. After all, nobody really checks that stuff, right? Wrong. more »

Mastering Consistent Landings

Mastering the basics of canopy control is one of the most important aspects of learning to skydive. It is also the skill that usually takes the longest for students and newly licensed jumpers to develop. It is a great feeling for skydiving instructors when a younger jumper finally becomes a great canopy pilot rather than a passenger going for a ride to wherever the canopy happens to be pointing. more »