Closing the Gap

A jumper who recently received a USPA A license stated that he wished he had learned the functions of the front and rear risers in detail, how to avoid canopy collisions, the appropriate times to disconnect a reserve static line (RSL), the best way to get back to the airport from a long spot and how he should flare his canopy during low-wind landings. If his instructors had trained this jumper properly, wouldn’t he already know this stuff? Yet somehow, his instructors still signed him off to receive his USPA A license. It is sad that some drop zones continue to provide student training that leaves so many gaps in skills and knowledge. more »

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I have been good this year (for the most part anyway), so here is my wish list. It’s pretty long, but every item is really important. more »

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Whether you are making your first jump or your 10,000th, flying on your belly or standing on your head, you must rely on your equipment for you to survive jumping from an airplane. So, if equipment is such a critical part of survival, doesn’t it make sense to make sure yours is ready for you to jump before every single skydive? more »

Teaching by Example

As an instructor, you need to ask yourself whether you are setting a good example with your canopy piloting. While hanging around the drop zone waiting to jump, students will often watch canopies landing. It doesn’t make much sense to tell them that they must fly an established landing pattern when you fly your own canopy like an out-of-control moron. Canopy collisions are a big problem and have caused many fatalities over the last decade, so it only makes sense to show students what a good pattern looks like by demonstrating the correct procedure during your own landings. more »

Avoiding a Pilot-Chute-in-Tow Malfunction

Since originally addressing the issue in the November 2009 edition of Parachutist (“Safety Check—A Pilot-Chute-in-Tow Malfunction” by Jim Crouch), USPA has received two more reports of jumpers who experienced the malfunction when their main closing pins pierced their bridles as they attempted to deploy, locking their containers shut. In all four of the reported cases, the jumpers successfully deployed their reserves and landed uneventfully. more »

Jumping with Toys

We’ve all seen the great photos in Parachutist of smiling jumpers riding in rafts, dangling from a tube or hanging upside down from an unruly, inflatable shark. It sure looks like fun, and in almost every case, it really is a blast! But jumping with toys presents challenges that can turn a fun skydive into a nightmare in a split second, so you need to use caution and common sense on these jumps, just as on any other skydive. more »

Closing Loop Length

Q:Recently, someone gave me a pin check and told me that my closing loop was too long because the grommets of my main container were not stacked vertically. The pin fits very snugly in the closing loop and holds my container tightly closed. Is it OK if my grommets are not aligned vertically when I close my main container? more »

USPA Instructional Programs Through the Years

When the Integrated Student Program (ISP) was approved at the July 2000 USPA Board meeting after two years of testing and development, the next task at hand was restructuring the instructional rating system. The rating system that originated with the static-line program had become a confusing patchwork, pieced together when the Accelerated Freefall (AFF), Tandem and Instructor-Assisted Deployment (IAD) training methods and the Coach rating came along. The Instructor Examiner rating also needed a complete overhaul, since it had remained virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1962. It was definitely time to simplify this hodgepodge. more »

Misassembled Soft Links

While walking through the DZ hangar, a rigger noticed a licensed jumper’s main canopy attached to risers with soft links (Slinks®) that he had assembled incorrectly. The jumper had passed the soft link through the suspension lines of the main canopy only one time; when correctly assembled, the soft link passes through both the suspension lines and riser twice before the ends are secured together. He had jumped the canopy a few times in this misrigged configuration, and luckily the main canopy remained attached to the risers. The jumper, who was also the owner of the rig, thought that he had correctly followed the assembly instructions and didn’t consult a rigger. Replacing hard links with soft links is a complex assembly operation, which if done incorrectly could result in injury or death. According to the FAA, the maintenance should have been performed by a master rigger, senior rigger or by the owner while under the supervision of a master rigger. more »

Wings in Water

Everyone who holds a USPA B or higher license is required to have undergone live water training and should have an understanding of how to survive an unintentional water landing. However, wingsuits add another dimension to water landings and can complicate an already difficult situation. Recently, a group of jumpers set out to discover how a wingsuit water landing might differ from one in a traditional suit. They performed a total of 46 water entries into swimming pools, including some into a pool that had a moving current. They entered from diving boards and platforms, with and without attached main canopies, wearing fully zipped and partially zipped suits, and were sometimes fully clothed beneath those suits, including wearing heavy boots. more »