Aircraft Emergency

It took almost 25 years of skydiving, but I finally experienced an aircraft emergency as a skydiver. Actually, I would not even classify it as a true emergency, since the engine loss happened at 13,000 feet. As a pilot myself with many hours in this King Air, I knew what was going on and I had a good idea of how the pilot who was flying was going to handle the situation. But seeing how everyone reacted was interesting. Some looked nervous, and some seemed confused about what to do. more »

Breaking the Links in the Chain

Survey information provided by members of USPA indicates that “Incident Reports” is one of the most important and widely read sections of Parachutist magazine. Apparently, we all see the value in learning from these reports in hopes of avoiding a similar situation on our own skydives. Skydivers are not unique in learning through this type of process. Airplane pilots, BASE jumpers, scuba divers and all sorts of people who participate in potentially dangerous activities study accident information. An entire government agency, the National Transportation Safety Board, is dedicated to investigating accidents in every form of transportation, all in the name of discovering their true causes and developing recommendations for avoiding them in the future. So it is not unusual at all that you would want to read “Incident Reports” for educational purposes. more »

I Just Earned My A License … Now What?

After months of hard work, countless trips to the drop zone and a painful financial commitment, you are finally the proud recipient of a USPA A License. In the blink of an eye, you have graduated from being a carefully guarded and supervised student to a licensed skydiver under the watchful eye of … well … nobody. So, now what?  more »

Avoiding Deployment Collisions—Group Separation

Last month, “Safety Check” addressed the issues of finding clear airspace for your main canopy deployment and avoiding the other jumpers within your group. This month, “Safety Check” addresses the issues surrounding separation between groups. more »

Avoiding Canopy Collisions - Breakoff Separation

As skydiving continues to progress—with jumpers now enjoying a wide variety of disciplines and piloting faster canopies—it has become more challenging to find clear airspace at deployment time. Since 1999, 11 jumpers have died in canopy collisions. Additionally, there were many instances of collisions that resulted in injuries or cutaways, although the exact number is unknown.  more »

Collision Avoidance

A few years ago, I was driving home from work while deep in thought and not paying much attention to my surroundings. I came to an intersection and quickly looked both ways before I turned left. As I finished the turn, I was a bit surprised to have an angry woman riding my bumper and blowing her horn while showing me a hand gesture that seemed to indicate that I was “number one in her book.” It turns out the intersection had a blind spot that blocked my full view of the road, and I had just pulled out right in front of Ms. Angry Driver. Oops. At least she was paying attention! more »

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 »