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Safety Check | Learning from the Past
Safety Check | November 2018

Safety Check | Learning from the Past

by Jim Crouch

Harry S. Truman once said, “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” This quote (and many others like it) warns us all that we must know our history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It comes as no surprise that this also applies directly to skydiving.

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | Target Fixation
Safety Check | October 2018

Safety Check | Target Fixation

by Jim Crouch

Wikipedia defines target fixation as “an attentional phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on an observed object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object.” Motorcyclists, automobile drivers and even fighter pilots flying strafing runs during World War II have focused so intently on an impending hazard that they actually maneuvered directly into it. And skydivers fall prey to the phenomenon, too.

Author: Deborah
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Safety Check | Knowing Your Reserve
Safety Check | September 2018

Safety Check | Knowing Your Reserve

by Jim Crouch

When you want to check out a new main parachute, chances are you’ll make a solo jump, open higher than usual and spend some time flying the new wing to get used to how it handles. Almost everyone who jumps a new main canopy does. After all, it makes sense. It’s a mystery how the new parachute will steer and flare compared to what you are used to, and who wouldn’t want to make a few jumps on it under controlled conditions with plenty of altitude to learn how to fly it?

Author: Jim Crouch
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Can You Spot ALL The Mistakes?
Safety Check | September 2018

Can You Spot ALL The Mistakes?

By Tim Parrant

Author: Tim Parrant
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Safety Check | Harness-and-Container Fit
Safety Check | August 2018

Safety Check | Harness-and-Container Fit

By Jim Crouch

A properly sized and adjusted harness-and-container is essential to your safety both in freefall and under canopy. It’s likely that many jumpers who are reading this right now are in real danger of coming out of their harnesses during their next skydives and don’t even realize it.

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | July 2018

Safety Check | Downsizing

by Jim Crouch

“When can I downsize to a smaller main canopy?” This is probably the most commonly asked question at every drop zone around the world. It seems like everyone—from newly licensed jumpers to those with thousands of skydives—wants to jump a smaller parachute. The answer to the question is tricky and can mean the difference between an uneventful experience and a serious injury or even fatality. 

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | June 2018

Safety Check | Knowing Your Gear

By Jim Crouch

In a sport that requires correctly functioning equipment for your survival, how much do you really know about your skydiving gear? Each year, fatal and non-fatal accidents stem from issues with skydiving equipment. The vast majority of these could have been avoided had the jumpers simply known more about their gear or performed basic gear checks to discover the problem before boarding or exiting the airplane. 

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | June 2018

Safety Check | Knowing Your Gear

By Jim Crouch

In a sport that requires correctly functioning equipment for your survival, how much do you really know about your skydiving gear? Each year, fatal and non-fatal accidents stem from issues with skydiving equipment. The vast majority of these could have been avoided had the jumpers simply known more about their gear or performed basic gear checks to discover the problem before boarding or exiting the airplane. 

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | May 2018

Safety Check | Instructing Wingsuit Flyers

by Jim Crouch

Over the years, many hoped that the wingsuiting community would develop safely without the need for heavy-handed regulation from USPA. Those who opposed a wingsuit instructor rating argued that USPA does not—and should not—require specific training for or regulate advanced skydiving such as freeflying or high-performance canopy piloting. The best example of a skydiving discipline that developed excellent training methods and safety guidelines without requiring USPA regulation is canopy formation skydiving. The pioneers of canopy formation skydiving learned what worked well and what didn’t work well and formulated the best processes and techniques for teaching jumpers who are new to the discipline. Those guidelines continued to evolve and improve, and now it is very rare that a fatality occurs during a canopy formation jump. 

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | April 2018

Spring Winds

by Jim Crouch, USPA Director of Safety and Training

For skydivers, springtime weather can be both tricky and frustrating. After freezing all winter, many jumpers head to the drop zone at the first sign of a reasonably warm day, and they may be tempted to jump even if the winds are high or there are lots of clouds. But as the old saying goes, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground.” 

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | March 2018

Stay Calm and Open Straight

by Kevin Gibson

If your canopy flies straight both in brakes and with the brakes released but it turns to the right on opening, you have a common problem that frequently has a simple, no-cost solution.

Author: Kevin Gibson
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Safety Check | January 2018

Observer/Expectation Bias

by Jim Crouch

A jumper puts on his rig, boards an airplane and exits the plane at 10,000 feet for a formation skydive with three other jumpers. Soon after the exit, one of his teammates points out that his chest strap is flapping in the wind. It is unthreaded and trailing uselessly behind his back. At deployment time, he manages to hold the two main lift webs together with his left hand and deploy with his right. He lands otherwise uneventfully. The jumper was sure that he checked his chest strap when he went through his multiple gear checks. So if he really checked his gear, what happened?

Author: Jim Crouch
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Seatbelt Usage
Safety Check | December 2017

Seatbelt Usage

Has this happened to you?
You’re hot loading a full turbine aircraft, and you’re one of the last on. You scrunch onto that last seat on the straddle bench and scramble to find your seatbelt just as the door shuts, only to discover that someone at the front of the plane skipped a belt. What do you do?

Author: SuperUser
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Safety Check | November 2017

Wingsuit Collisions

Hard-impact freefall collisions resulting in serious injuries and fatalities were once a common issue with formation skydivers and freeflyers, and now they’re an issue with wingsuiters. Modern wingsuit flying—which now has had more than 20 years to develop training methods and equipment and build a foundation of knowledge—cannot truly be considered a new discipline any longer, but it continues to struggle with injuries and fatalities from collisions in freefall, as well as collisions with the aircraft on exit.

Author: SuperUser
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Safety Check | October 2017

Aircraft Emergency

It took almost 25 years of skydiving, but I finally experienced an aircraft emergency as a skydiver. Actually, I would not even classify it as a true emergency, since the engine loss happened at 13,000 feet. As a pilot myself with many hours in this King Air, I knew what was going on and I had a good idea of how the pilot who was flying was going to handle the situation. But seeing how everyone reacted was interesting. Some looked nervous, and some seemed confused about what to do.

Author: SuperUser
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Safety Check | July 2017

Avoiding Deployment Collisions

Group Separation

For the many skydivers who jump from Cessna 182s or Cessna 206s at their local drop zones, group separation is not much of an issue. If the airplane carries two 2-way or 3-way groups, by the time the second group climbs out and exits, the airplane usually covers enough distance that group separation is not a problem. However, larger airplanes usually mean more groups on board. On top of that, if the jumpers are performing many different disciplines, the group dynamics may be very complicated because they may be falling at very different speeds and not necessarily straight down. (Wingsuit, tracking and angle flyers cover a lot of real estate before breaking off for deployment.) Each jumper in all the various groups must plan and execute the jump properly to ensure that everyone has clear airspace for deployment.

Author: Jen Sharp
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Avoiding Canopy Collisions - Breakoff Separation
Safety Check | June 2017

Avoiding Canopy Collisions - Breakoff Separation

Safety Check

As skydiving continues to progress—with jumpers now enjoying a wide variety of disciplines and piloting faster canopies—it has become more challenging to find clear airspace at deployment time. Since 1999, 11 jumpers have died in canopy collisions. Additionally, there were many instances of collisions that resulted in injuries or cutaways, although the exact number is unknown. 

Author: Jen Sharp
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Safety Check | February 2014

Choosing a Canopy

by Jim Crouch

The choices you make when purchasing skydiving gear can literally mean the difference between life and death. The data on the causes of skydiving injuries and fatalities makes it pretty clear that nothing is more important when it comes to gear than the size and type of main canopy you choose to fly and the decisions you make while flying it.

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | February 2013

Travel Tips

by Jim Crouch

Whether it is a visit to a nearby drop zone during a weekend of normal jump operations or a long trip to a boogie or other special event, it is fun and exciting to head out for new adventures. But it can also be intimidating, especially if you are new to the sport and leaving the nest for the first time. A little planning and preparation will go a long way toward making your experience fun and painless.

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | January 2012

Canopy Courses

by Jim Crouch

Many canopy-related accidents are rooted in a lack of basic skill and knowledge regarding canopy flight. The USPA Board of Directors has taken a step toward reducing canopy-related injuries and fatalities by mandating new requirements for the USPA B license. 

Author: Jim Crouch
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Safety Check | July 2011

Jumping at Unfamiliar DZs

by Jim Crouch

Jumping at an unfamiliar drop zone can be intimidating, especially to newer skydivers who may have jumped at only one place so far. Jumpers need to approach visiting a new location with caution and planning, whether it is just a weekend jumping out of a Cessna 182 or sharing the skies with hundreds of jumpers at a large boogie. And this caution applies to jumpers of all experience levels.

Author: Jim Crouch
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