Good News-Bad News

2009 ended with just 16 civilian skydiving fatalities in the United States, a modern-day record low. We have to go all the way back to 1961 to find a year with fewer fatalities (14). On one hand, this is a phenomenal achievement considering that the number of jumps made in 2009 by 32,000-plus USPA members is considerably higher than in 1961, when 3,353 members made a much smaller (but unknown total) number of jumps. In regard to safety, our sport has certainly come a long way. On the other hand, we had many near misses, serious injuries and have seen many mistakes repeated from past years. more »

Shaking off the Rust

For many instructional rating holders in the U.S., student training and jumping activity finally comes to life again in March after several frigid months of un-jumpable weather. First-time students start showing up, as do those returning students who didn’t get a chance to wrap up their A-license requirements before the weather turned cold and the drop zone closed for the winter. But before you get busy helping students get current and before you start jumping with all those first timers, make sure you are current yourself. Whether you are a coach or an instructor, and no matter which discipline you hold a rating in, ground and air skills can get rusty in just a short period of time. more »

Where to Repair?

Q:
When I need to get my rig repaired, who should fix it? more »

Reacting to a Canopy Collision

Unless you are a jumper who has some canopy formation skydiving experience, you may not have given much thought about what you should do if you are ever involved in a canopy collision. Knowing what to do, and reacting correctly to the situation, just might save your life and the life of the other jumper involved. more »

Snag Hazards

This jumper snagged the bottom of one of his jumpsuit booties while exiting from the step of a Cessna 182 aircraft. There have been several similar jumper-Cessna hang-ups in the past, in which jumpers were left hanging from one of their booties after letting go of the plane. In at least one case, the airplane landed while still trailing the jumper because the jumper could not be freed from the step. In this case, the pilot, Matt Camardo, was able to cut the jumper free of the step because he had a knife available. The jumper then fell from the aircraft and had an otherwise uneventful skydive. Every aircraft, particularly ones that have a step such as the Cessna 182 and 206 models, should include a sturdy knife that the pilot can access for situations like this one. Jumpers exiting from the step of a Cessna should use extra caution with their foot placement to avoid this type of problem. more »

Skydiving Skills, Learning and Sleep

Are you staying up late studying the Skydiver’s Information Manual or Instructor’s Rating Manual for a rating examination? Or staying at the DZ to do a couple more practice jumps, even though you’re exhausted? more »

A Low-Cost Life Saver

Q:
How do I make a closing loop? How do I know if mine needs replacing? more »

Light Box

TRICKSOFTHETRADE20101-1Light tables can be a real help when working with canopy fabric, but they're a little bulky, especially for a rigger who works out of varying locations. Here's a more portable option: a light box. Just find, buy or make a plastic or glass box that will be big enough to light a worthwhile area, but small enough to fit inside most canopy cells. Install some small lights on one half of the interior of the box. LED lights are probably best, since they're highly shock resistant and give off almost no heat. A set from a big box store costs around $10. The top surface of the box can be translucent plastic for most purposes, but would have to be made of sturdy glass if any hot knifing will be done on it. A clear piece of glass or plastic can be made translucent by spraying a very light coat of white paint on the inside surface, which will help brighten and even out the light. more »

The Reasons for the Rules

While every skydiving fatality is a tragedy, tandem student and instructor fatalities are doubly so. But the truly tragic part is not just that two lives are often lost in a single accident, it is the fact that most, if not all, tandem fatalities to date could have been avoided by sticking to standard procedures. A trained, professional tandem instructor controls a tandem jump from the ground training to landing, but in spite of that, tandem fatalities have been on the rise over the last five years. more »

Performing a Wingsuit Gear Check

With the rise of popularity of wingsuiting, even if you’ve never flown a wingsuit, you may be in the position to give a gear check to someone wearing one. Although many of the techniques go back to the basics of skydiving, others are particular to the discipline. Adding to the confusion is that wingsuit design varies by brand and model, and suits can be rigged differently depending on how the container is designed or due to jumper preference. So if there is ever any doubt as you go through the following steps, consult the manufacturer. more »