In recent years, USPA has been aware of the growth of groups using static-lined round parachutes to either reenact World War II-style airborne jumps or simply to experience or relive military-style jumps. For the most part, these groups conduct static-line jumps from about 1,500 feet AGL using round main parachutes, front-mounted reserves and no reserve static lines, automatic activation devices or altimeters. Most but not all of their jumpers do not qualify for a USPA license and would be considered student skydivers. USPA has had no issue whatsoever with these groups doing their jumps at their own locations and at airshows with Federal Aviation Administration approval.
Don Kellner earned USPA 45,000-Jump Wings #1 after making his 45,000th skydive on Saturday, April 20, over Above the Poconos Skydivers, which he and his wife Darlene own, in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He made the jump in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the first intentional freefall, which Leslie Irvin completed April 28, 1919, in Dayton, Ohio.
USPA ended April with its highest-ever membership—40,620 members! The milestone comes after last October’s high of 40,441 members. USPA reached the 40,000-member mark for the first time ever last summer. These numbers indicate that the sport of skydiving is continuing to grow, as more people not only jump for the first time, but return to pursue the sport as a hobby. USPA anticipates that these numbers will continue to climb throughout the upcoming summer season.
You’ve often read in these pages that one of USPA’s main roles is to safeguard skydiving’s rightful place in airspace and on airports. Federal Aviation Administration policy has long recognized skydiving as a regulated aeronautical activity within the nation’s airspace and on the 3,000-plus U.S. airports that have accepted FAA funds for improvements. Those federal airport dollars come with the stipulation that the airport must fairly accommodate all types of aeronautical activity, including skydiving.
The 2019 USPA National Canopy Piloting Championships at Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina, this September will now include a freestyle test event. The three-jump event is scheduled for September 10, with official registration on September 9.
Orange Skies Free Fall Center launched its opening weekend at Fort Morgan Municipal Airport in Colorado April 20-21.
The National Aeronautic Association selected the four-point 42-way head-down world record as one of its most memorable aviation records of 2018. The skydivers set the record on June 30 over Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, surpassing the previous record of 33 set in 2014.
The USPA Competition Department is looking for qualified individuals to fill several leadership positions at the upcoming 2019 FAI World Cup competitions.
If you ask Patricia Annette Thomas (whom most simply call “Pat”) about her greatest life achievement, she will unhesitatingly say it is her family, then quickly change the subject. However, if you persist, she might share some stories from the myriad wonderful moments in her life.
If your words could save a skydiver from injury or worse, would you speak up? Of course you would. In fact, such conversations probably happen every day at DZs everywhere. Whether such discussions occur after a gear check, when reviewing a dive plan or while discussing jump run or winds or a landing pattern, sharing knowledge and correcting misconceptions are a vital part of safe skydiving.
The USPA Membership Services Committee is currently seeking nominations for three of its service awards: the Lifetime Achievement Award (a maximum of one recipient annually), the Gold Medal for Meritorious Service (up to three recipients annually) and the Regional Achievement Award (up to five recipients annually).
USPA is celebrating the 100th anniversary of freefall on April 28 and is encouraging skydivers to submit photos of themselves making 100-shaped formations in the sky, so it’s the perfect time to learn how to make one.
Many people know that the Wright brothers developed their flying technology in Dayton, Ohio, even though their first flight was in North Carolina. But what a lot of people don’t know is that Dayton continued as a hub of aviation innovation long after the Wright brothers’ time there. By World War I, the U.S. Army Air Service was located in the city at McCook Field, where the development of aviation technologies—including the parachute—thrived. The field, named for the McCook family (Union General Alexander McDowell McCook, his seven brothers and five cousins all fought in the American Civil War), was the home of the first military aviation research facility in 1917 and the first intentional delayed freefall skydive on April 28, 1919.
Tragedy struck the skydiving community in 2018 when a Cessna 182 crashed shortly after takeoff, killing the pilot and three skydivers and leaving the lone survivor with serious injuries. According to the National Transportation Safety Board Preliminary Report: “A witness that was in a park outside the airport watched as the airplane climbed after takeoff on the accident flight. The witness said that the airplane was about 150 feet over the runway when the engine stopped. They watched as the wings of the airplane rocked left and right before the airplane pitched down and collided with the ground.”
Rob Laidlaw, D-32405, has an extensive skydiving resume, and his name is synonymous with innovation in skydiving training and advanced coaching. He began skydiving in 1973 at the age of 19 in Manitoba, Canada, and since then has made more than 18,600 jumps.
Mark Baur, D-6108, is a USPA Lifetime Member who made his first skydive in 1978. By 1979 he had earned all four licenses and USPA issued them all—A through D—in March of that year. Over the years, Baur earned nearly all possible USPA instructional ratings: He was a Coach Examiner and AFF, Tandem and Static-Line Instructor Examiner. Although he no longer holds instructional ratings (he stopped using his last rating—AFF Instructor—at the end of 2018), he continues to mentor local instructors at his home DZ, Skydive Twin Cities in Baldwin, Wisconsin.
Firebird USA LLC has released Public Service Bulletin FB 2019-01 which requires all Firebird EVO HC with Pillow Ripcord assemblies PN 012 built
between April 2018-March 2019 with serial numbers CB 001-CB 010 to be inspected by the manufacturer.
Recently, USPA began to make changes to its data policies, due in large part to a law—the General Data Protection Rule—passed by the European Union in 2017. Effective last May, the law required organizations worldwide to take steps to safeguard the personal data of the citizens and residents of the 28 EU countries. Moreover, the law mandates that individuals have control over how, when and if organizations share their personal data. Violations can result in large fines. Personal data is defined as any data that can uniquely identify an individual … such as a membership or license number.
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.
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.
Last year, the sport of skydiving reached record levels of safety in the U.S., while participation continued to grow to record numbers. In 2018, the U.S. Parachute Association recorded the lowest number of skydiving fatalities—13—in the U.S. since record-keeping began more than 60 years ago.
For the first time, USPA and Sigma hosted the STAR Awards at the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Dallas, Texas. The Skydiving Technology Advancement Roundup competition invited anyone who manufactures, designs, engineers or promotes technology products in the skydiving field to enter product submissions in three categories: jumper experience, drop zone tools, and safety and training. Nine finalists—three in each category—presented their products at the USPA booth in the PIA exhibit hall February 5-7.
How safe is skydiving? Very safe? Somewhat safe? Not safe at all? Safety experts will say that the question really is, “What is skydiving’s level of safety?” or in other words, “What is the level of risk?” Even then, we must focus the question more to ask, “Risk of what? Death? Injury?”
“The Front Office” answers questions about jump pilots and piloting. You’ll learn what pilots do behind the scenes to make your favorite time of week happen, and you’ll get a one-of-a-kind view from the one seat in the airplane you never get to be in.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Brianne Thompson. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
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.
Since 1961 USPA has compiled every skydiving fatality in the U.S., except skydives conducted under military orders. Thirteen skydiving fatalities were recorded in the U.S. in 2018. That’s a historic low.
The 2018 USPA National Collegiate Parachuting Championships wrapped up Wednesday, January 2, at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. The competition, the longest-running skydiving competition in the U.S., drew 73 college skydivers from 13 schools across the U.S.
(More articles being added every day!)
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