Choosing the Correct Canopies for Your Students

There are many variables to consider when deciding what size canopy a student should jump. Years ago, this was not really an issue—every student jumped a 300-square-foot canopy, and instructors didn’t need to make a choice. But while larger canopies allowed for soft landings (at least in most cases), the very low wing loadings meant that even the slightest amount of wind caused students to fly backward. In those days, it was not unusual for students to back into trees, power lines or other landing hazards. more »

Hypoxia: Impending Judgment on Reaction Times

The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) set the requirements for the use of oxygen while on aircraft in Section 91.211 of the FAA’s General Operating and Flight Rules. The section applies to pilots and passengers, including skydivers, even though there is no mention of oxygen use in the more familiar Part 105, Parachute Operations. Jump pilots are required to use supplemental oxygen above 14,000 feet mean sea level (MSL), and supplemental oxygen must be provided to each skydiver when the aircraft is above 15,000 feet MSL. The USPA Basic Safety Requirements also mandate the use of supplemental oxygen for skydives above 15,000 feet MSL. more »

Line Wear

Q:

 

When should I replace my lines? more »

Loose Brake Line and Locked Toggles

When excess steering line came loose from the keepers on one of a jumper’s risers during an otherwise-normal deployment, he inadvertently reached through the loop of excess line when he grabbed his toggle to release his brakes. When he pulled the toggle, it locked the steering line to the riser as shown in the photo. When he discovered that he could not steer or flare his canopy well, the jumper cut away and landed safely under his reserve. Jumpers should use caution when packing to make sure they stow the excess steering line securely. They should also make sure that their toggles are clear of any excess steering line when they release their brakes. more »

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 »