As a skydiver, you probably take the advice of doctors on health questions involving skydiving with a few grains of salt, right? I mean, if it’s important enough that you’re actually going to bother asking somebody outside of the internet, your fate seems predestined.
The Second Annual Red Bull Fly Girls Summit at iFLY Orlando and Skydive DeLand in Florida hosted 55 of the country’s best female skydivers—professional and amateur—during the first weekend of 2019. The summit celebrated women in skydiving, a sport that men have traditionally dominated. With its event, which featured a variety of seminars, tunnel time and fun jumps, as well as a competition and an instructional rating course, Red Bull hoped to inspire more women to become skydivers and grow the sport accordingly.
Have you ever noticed how two containers with the same number of jumps on them can look vastly different? This is a result of many factors, which you should take into account every time you use your rig.
Every two years, USPA brings together drop zone owners, operators and staff for a day full of presentations and discussions on all the latest important issues for DZs. This year, USPA held its 2019 Drop Zone Operators’ Conference February 3-4 in Dallas, Texas. About 100 DZOs, speakers, Federal Aviation Administration representatives and sponsors met to share information on everything from safety to marketing to keeping young jumpers in the sport.
Following USPA elections last fall, the USPA Board of Directors gathered for the first meeting of its three-year term February 1-3 in Dallas, Texas. The new board welcomed six new members, two of whom had previously been on the board and returned after a hiatus.
USPA held its 2018 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships at an unusually frigid Skydive Arizona in Eloy December 28-January 2. Skydive Arizona has hosted numerous Collegiates over the event’s 61-year history, and as usual, owners Larry and Lil Hill, Safety and Training Advisor Bryan Burke and the rest of the staff held a fantastic and successful competition despite the surprisingly chilly temperatures.
In the fabric of stories that makes up the history of skydiving, there’s one notable place where the material dwindles into a frayed edge: the part that weaves in skydivers of color. If you’re not so sure about that, I’ll just put it this way: Google “the history of African-American skydiving.” The first hit is for Team Blackstar.
Safety Day—traditionally held on the second Saturday in March—represents the beginning of a new season of skydiving. Whether you're from a northern drop zone that shuts down for the winter or you’re a fair-weather jumper from the south, you’ll soon catch yourself staring out the window listening to the birds sing, watching the trees bud and daydreaming of the jumping days ahead. If you’re like many jumpers across the country, you’ll start pulling out gear that has sat unused for months. Now is the time to check your data cards, dust off the electronics and charge the batteries. The 2019 season will soon be here.
The country of Egypt currently has no civilian drop zones, but that didn’t stop Alia Parachuting and Air Sports Federation—an organization that helps facilitate sport-skydiving activities in the country and abroad—from putting together an amazing boogie over the pyramids of Giza December 9-11.
In mid-November, some of the world’s best wingsuit flyers and canopy pilots joined an equally talented group of canopy formation skydivers to stretch their limits at Project Blacklist 2, a four-day invitational event at Skydive Sebastian in Florida. Made possible by the evolution of multiple skydiving disciplines in the past decade, Blacklist gives jumpers a chance to fly together and explore their diverse skill sets in spectacular fashion.
Breaking world records in skydiving is not easy, as anyone who has taken part in one will attest. And nearly doubling one is harder yet. Needless to say, it was no simple task when Abdulla Al Mansoori and Samir Al Ammar, management at Skydive Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, decided that the DZ would take on the challenge of hosting a jump with a 4,885.65-square-meter (52,588.70 square-foot) flag to break the Guinness World Record for Largest Flag Flown While Parachuting (set by Ralf Grabowsky of the CYPRES Demo Team in July 2017 with a 2,698-square-meter flag).
Skydiving has had many great moments, but none surpass the first skydive by President George H.W. Bush. Now it is with great sadness that the skydiving community bids farewell to one of its own. President Bush was 94 years old.
When some of the best skydivers in the world learned that Kids for Peace was launching the Do It for Peace campaign to inspire people worldwide to take action, they just had to be part of it! On September 27, 34 world-class skydivers with a combined total of 195,000 jumps united and accomplished a peace-sign formation at Skydive Elsinore in California.
Lew Sanborn, D-1, was holding court outside the Bird House bar, relaxing with old timers whose jump totals were in the thousands. Just a few yards away at the other end of the facility, a couple of tandem students were gearing up for the experience of a lifetime. Nobody knew whether they would become skydivers or were merely weekend seekers of a thrill ride. In between, skydivers of every age, from everywhere and from every discipline, champions and casual weekend jumpers, gathered. It was the kind of atmosphere that epitomizes our sport. It was the International Skydiving Museum’s Hall of Fame weekend at one of the iconic locations of sport parachuting: Skydive City Zephyrhills in Florida
Some say that aging gracefully is hard. But on Saturday, November 10, Skydive Elsinore in California showed that time is on its side and age is just a number as it celebrated 60 years of top-notch skydiving at the drop zone’s home, Skylark Airfield. Current, former and aspiring jumpers flocked to the event. Among them was Larry Perkins, the son of the drop zone’s founder, Cy Perkins, who on March 1, 1958, took a skydiver (whose name is lost to time) up in his Cessna 172 and let him fall out.
It was the best worst idea (or, perhaps, the worst best idea). It came, as all the best worst ideas do, over coffee.
It bubbled up one wintry Slovak afternoon as my partner, Joel Strickland, and I were taking a mid-tunnel-camp break. As I snuggled down into a beanbag chair with my thermos, I checked my phone. A dear friend—the inimitable Melissa Dawn Burns—popped up to invite us to visit her in Alaska, where she and her husband have been flying planes over the wilderness at the world’s end. I’d never been to Alaska. I’d always wanted to go.
Suddenly, a thought occurred out of the ether. I turned to Joel.
“Hey, do you want to jump in all 50 states?”
“No,” he said, without missing a beat.
A few moments went by. I kept scrolling.
And suddenly, it was real.
On April 28, 1919, 23-year-old Leslie Irvin did something many had long thought impossible: He jumped from an airplane—intentionally untethered by a static line—freefell 1,000 feet, deployed a parachute and landed safely. And so freefall as we now know it was born.
Being a new jumper can be overwhelming. You graduate from AFF and are constantly learning new information about disciplines, the flow of the drop zone, landing rules and more. On top of that, you have a big choice to make: What canopy should you buy? To be fair, this will continue to be a significant question all the way throughout your skydiving career.
Jump for the Rose is a skydiving charity that raises funds for a beautiful facility called the Rose, a nonprofit breast cancer clinic that Dorothy Gibbons and Dr. Dixie Melillo founded in 1986. The Rose helped Marian Sparks, the founder of JFTR, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and had no insurance. Sparks paid it forward by creating a fundraiser to help uninsured women (and men) get help at the Rose.
USPA held its 2018 National Parachuting Championships at sunny Skydive Sebastian in Florida September 19-28. This was the first USPA Nationals for DZO Amanda Smalley and staff, and they did a spectacular job handling all of the expected (and unexpected) issues that arose.
On September 27, USPA Director of Competition Steve Hubbard called Greg Windmiller, D-20004, to the podium during the awards ceremony at the USPA National Championships of Canopy Piloting to receive a gold medal. It was not Windmiller’s first gold. In fact, it wasn’t even his first gold that day, as he had just won the canopy piloting speed event with a perfect-300 score.
A USPA Staff Report with contributions from Team Managers Eli Godwin, Karl Meyer, ShawnaRae Miliano and L.J. Wobker
The world’s most elite skydivers representing more than 40 nations made their way to Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, for the 2018 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Parachuting Championships of Artistic Events, Canopy Formation, Formation Skydiving and Speed Skydiving October 6-13 to vie for World Champion titles. The U.S. showed up with a healthy delegation of 12 teams and six speed competitors to compete in 10 events.
Skydiving in winter can be a beautiful experience. Flying your canopy through the crisp air over snow-covered fields is an activity you definitely should try and may find you enjoy. It can be challenging—and even potentially dangerous—but it’s a very rewarding and safe experience if you prepare for it properly.
So, you’d like to form a skydiving team and you’ve found other skydivers to join you. Congratulations! Now what? The good news is that the greatest hurdle is behind you. The next step is to come up with a team budget.
Determining world champions is not the only purpose for holding world championships. Promoting the sport, exchanging knowledge and information and strengthening friendly relationships between participating nations are equally important. The 35th Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing World Championships at Dropzone Erden near Montana, Bulgaria, August 24-31 offered the chance to do all of those things.
In the Olomouc region of the Czech Republic lays Prostějov, a city of more than 44,000 people that dates back to the 12th century. Home to the 601st Special Forces Group of the Czech Armed Forces, the airport in Prostějov has a history in parachuting going back to 1960. The drop zone Jump-Tandem, owned by Martin Dlouhý, a professional skydiver of more than 33 years, has been host to multiple world events, including two Vector Festivals, the CYPRES 25th Anniversary Boogie, three European Championships, two Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale World Cups and now two FAI World Championships.
For the first time in the U.S., a swooping competition came to the heart of a major city, giving the non-jumping general public a front-row seat to the dynamic, high-speed, spectator-friendly sport of canopy piloting. The Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championships came to the waterfront in downtown San Diego September 14-15, and the action lived up to the hype.
When it happened, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal operator, had already been serving his country for a dozen years. Those years had been good, full, strong years. On the day in question, the mission at hand was most certainly not Stacy’s first. All the way back in 2010, the USO presented its Service Member of the Year award to CPO Stacy for his key role in more than 50 combat missions while he’d been deployed to Afghanistan. Over the course of that decade-plus, Stacy had destroyed improvised bombs, trained both Afghan forces and U.S. Special Forces members on delicate clearing techniques and helped ensure the zero-casualty rate in the province where he was doing the good work.
Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Rochelle, Illinois, hosted the 2018 USPA National Skydiving Championships September 4-18. This was the first time the mid-sized Midwestern drop zone hosted a national championships and despite a few unexpected challenges, DZO Doug Smith, Director of Marketing Becky Johns and the rest of the CSC staff rose to the occasion to ensure a successful event.
(More articles being added every day!)
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