Safety Check | Your Safety and Training Advisor’s Role
By Ron Bell
Local, state and federal agencies exercise minimal control and supervision over skydiving, recognizing that those most capable of regulating skydiving are those who do it. At the very core of this system is the USPA Safety and Training Advisor, an unpaid volunteer appointed by the USPA Regional Director serving that drop zone. The S&TA is a local jumper who provides a drop zone’s skydivers and staff with administrative services and information and serves as a conduit between members and the regional director and USPA’s administrative staff.
Your drop zone probably has an S&TA. Nearly all drop zones do, even some that are not USPA Group Members. Your regional director appoints an S&TA specifically for your drop zone, likely in consultation with the drop zone operator. However, your S&TA is a representative of USPA, not the DZ. Although regional directors may also appoint S&TAs-at-large for the entire region, most are DZ-specific and may exercise their duties only at that location. So, if you need paperwork signed or wish to report a safety violation, you’ll need to go to your drop zone’s S&TA, not one visiting from another location. If you don’t have an S&TA at your drop zone, a visiting S&TA can help you, as long as they are from the same region.
The principal responsibility of your S&TA is to promote safe skydiving. An S&TA must be a current USPA member, hold a D license and be willing to promote USPA policies. An S&TA also must have made at least 50 jumps within the past 12 months, hold an instructor rating and attend an annual meeting (although the regional director can waive any of these three requirements). When an S&TA relocates to another USPA region, their appointment terminates, but the director of the new region may make a reappointment.
Your S&TA has the following functions at your drop zone:
- Observes skydiving operations to verify compliance with the Basic Safety Requirements
- Informs the regional director of any flagrant or recurring safety violations and, in severe cases, takes disciplinary action under Section 1-6 of the USPA Governance Manual
- Provides safety and training advice to skydivers, the drop zone operator and rating holders
- Reviews plans for exhibition jumps and verifies that the locations meet minimum requirements
- Provides advice and assistance with extraordinary skydive operations (e.g., night jumps, water jumps, jumps from above 15,000 feet MSL, exhibition jumps and preplanned breakaway jumps)
- Investigates incidents and submits reports
- Verifies that candidates meet requirements on D-license applications and rating renewals
- Promotes USPA policies and programs (e.g., USPA Safety Day)
- Completes other tasks upon request of the regional director
You can find a list of all current S&TAs at uspa.org. If you feel that your S&TA is not performing their duties correctly, you should notify your regional director.
The S&TA is one of your DZ’s most valuable assets and can provide its staff with a great deal of advice on all aspects of skydiving and drop zone operations. An S&TA should be available at your drop zone anytime it’s conducting skydiving operations. If you have a safety concern or question about anything related to skydiving, your S&TA is probably the best person to approach for an answer. If they don’t know the answer to your question, they will likely know where to find it or whom to call.
Ron Bell | D-26863
USPA Director of Safety and Training