Instructors Anastasis Sideris and Dimitris Sourlis exit with a Category C AFF student at Skydive Athens in Kopaida, Greece.
Recently, USPA has received several reports of jumpers who experienced a difficult time shearing the Velcro of their cutaway handles during spinning, high-speed, line-twist malfunctions. During these types of malfunctions, the risers are crossed and the main lift web is forced tightly against the torso, making it more critical than ever to perform the proper cutaway technique.
There are plenty of misconceptions about designated evaluators, those jumpers who assist AFF instructor examiners by performing currency and course evaluation jumps. Quiz yourself to see how your understanding stacks up to reality.
Cognitive tunneling, which often manifests itself as target fixation in skydiving, is one of the principal causes of accidents that involve human error. Cognitive tunneling is the mental state in which your brain focuses on one thing and, as a result, does not see other relevant data. This perceptual blindness causes our attention to overlook even the most obvious clues to problems that are right in front of us. Metaphorically, a mind’s focus can be either like a floodlight that dimly illuminates a large area or like a spotlight that provides intense clarity on a single subject.
The term “rigger” comes from sailing. According to the Federal Aviation Administration Parachute Rigger Handbook, the only place clean enough and big enough for riggers to work on parachutes in the early days was upstairs in an aircraft hangar, hence the term “rigging loft.”
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by David Cherry. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
During a USPA Tandem Instructor Rating Course during the Red Bull Fly Girls event at Skydive DeLand in Florida, rating candidate Katie Hansen and a faux student perform a mock exit.
Several changes that came out of the February 1-3 USPA Board meeting in Dallas, Texas, affect USPA rating holders.
“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.
The Rolling Stones sang a popular song titled “Time is on My Side.” Obviously, Mick Jagger never had a high-speed malfunction. After receiving a letter from a concerned skydiver who witnessed an incident resulting from a low cutaway, the Safety and Training Committee discussed the hazards of one high-speed malfunction—spinning line twists—during the February 1-3 USPA Board meeting in Dallas, Texas.
Safety and Training Advisor Keri Bell points out the signatures of the 59 A-license holders that Skydive Kapowsin in Shelton, Washington, trained in 2018.
In the interest of safety, USPA formed a Compliance Group to investigate allegations against members of USPA. Although the Compliance Group focuses its efforts on retraining and education rather than penalties, it will suspend or revoke memberships or ratings if its investigations show that such actions are warranted. In 2018, the USPA Compliance Group conducted 21 investigations into allegations against members of USPA, 14 of which resulted in disciplinary actions.
Jumpers blame the occurrence of twisted steering lines on everything from how they collapsed their canopies to the Coriolis effect. But no matter how they occur, if left unattended, they can lead to problems. It does not take many twists before lines start wearing unevenly.
How do the best competitors in our sport reach success? Teamwork: individuals combining efforts to achieve a common purpose. Teamwork works best when each member understands their part in the whole. So, in the case of skydiving instruction, who does what?
Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger D.J. Styles instantly knew there was something wrong with a new customer’s cutaway cables when reinstalling them after a routine reserve inspection and repack of a rig the customer had purchased used less than a year earlier. Styles routinely measures cables for new customers, as well as anytime he replaces a lost handle, but this time the cutaway cables were several inches longer than the manufacturer’s specifications, and it was apparent there was a problem even without measuring.
Skydivers all belong to a big mixed family. What was once a niche group has developed into a large, interconnected community. Despite this large network, there are small pockets within our sport that have become isolated. It’s within these small, isolated pockets that bad habits traditionally flourish.
In the real world of skydiving, people who are coaches, instructors and role models have their own personal experiences, training backgrounds and motivations. Achieving common safety objectives and targets instead of operating as a group of individuals without a common purpose requires an interactive process. Using a Plan–Do–Check–Act process can provide the structure and commonality needed to get everyone on the same page and working together. Like a circle that has no end, the PDCA cycle requires repetition for continuous improvement. When using PDCA for safety initiatives, you, the instructional rating holder, have a crucial part to play.
While performing a routine gear check on another jumper, the inspecting jumper noticed that the reserve-static-line lanyard was tucked between the jumper’s shoulder and harness. This improper stowing could have caused the lanyard to snag, risking an unintentional reserve deployment.
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.
A jumper experienced broken suspension lines on his new main parachute that required him to cut away and deploy his reserve. Later, when investigators inspected the main parachute, they determined that tension knots, which most likely developed in the jumper’s semi-stowless deployment bag, caused one line to saw through the other lines. Jumpers must carefully fold suspension lines into the pouch of a semi-stowless bag to allow the lines to pull free in an orderly manner.
Four hundred and forty-nine. That’s a small number by some standards and a large one by others. To me, it is a much larger number than it should be. This is the number of civilian skydiving fatalities recorded in the United States during the 18 years and three months that I was the director of safety and training for USPA. Each one was a tragedy, with friends and family left in shock as they picked up the pieces in the aftermath of suddenly losing a loved one.
Real life often gets in the way of skydiving, and jumpers may find themselves away from the sport for 61 days, 30 years or something in between. One of the regular tasks of USPA Coaches and Instructors is to help these jumpers knock off the rust and get back in the air. Every jumper’s situation will be different, so it requires the instructional staff to create a training plan unique to each individual.
One of the simplest ways to become a stronger instructor and a better leader is to change ineffective speech patterns. Three common habits can cause a noticeable lack of clarity. Once coaches and instructors correct these habits, they instantly add power and confidence to their lessons.
2018 really flew by! I can’t believe it is already time for another wish list, but hopefully you can see to it that all my wishes come true. It’s a long list (and it’ll be my last one as director of safety and training for USPA), but it’s all pretty important stuff. This past year brought a lot of lousy weather, so first of all, I would like to see a bunch of sunny weekends so jumpers can get to their drop zones frequently and the drop zones can stay busy flying lots of loads.
Q: Some rigs have the main bridle routed top to bottom over the closing flaps, and some rigs have bridles that come out from underneath the closing pin and then back down the same direction. Which is more correct?
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