Last-Minute Adjustments

This jumper performed her regular gear checks—one before boarding the aircraft, again while the aircraft was climbing and one just prior to arriving at exit altitude—in preparation for a freefly jump. However, after the final check, she removed her helmet in order to put on her goggles and forgot to re-buckle the strap. Soon after exiting, as she transitioned from a head-down position to a sit, the helmet flew off her head. The jumper caught the moment on her chest-mounted camera. No one was struck by the departing helmet, so it was a harmless (but expensive) oversight. Jumpers who make last-minute adjustments should perform an additional gear check just to make sure nothing has been overlooked. more »

Preventing Tandem Fatalities

A look at USPA’s fatality statistics shows an alarming trend: While overall skydiving fatalities decreased during the past 10 years compared to the two previous decades, student fatalities increased. With better training programs and equipment than ever before, the number of student fatalities should have declined just as the total numbers have. The reasons for student fatalities vary, but many could have had different outcomes had the instructors stuck with standard procedures for working with students and supervised them more closely. more »

Repacking the Reserve

Q:
What’s involved in a reserve repack, and why do repacks vary in price? more »

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 »