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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
A Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger opened this pilot emergency parachute system, which had seen many years out of service and was stored in an unknown manner, and found that all of the rubber bands had rotted and that many of them had melted onto the suspension lines.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by David Wybenga. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
Section 4 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual contains the Integrated Student Program, now in its 18th year as the progression that USPA recommends for students working toward the A license. It is a very detailed program, which can make it look intimidating to the casual observer, but it’s actually easy to implement and use. The program makes it simple to track exactly what students have completed and what they still need to accomplish as they work through each of the tasks required for the USPA A license.
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.
This jumper deployed his main parachute at approximately 3,500 feet, and it was immediately obvious the parachute had malfunctioned and would not inflate. He released the main parachute a few seconds after the deployment and opened his reserve parachute.
At the July 13-15 USPA Board meeting in Milwaukee, the board passed a motion to change the Basic Safety Requirements regarding accelerated freefall student training. The new language spells out the minimum requirements for students who train in wind tunnels before they make their first jumps with only one AFF instructor.
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.
A senior parachute rigger received this harness and container for some work, and when he closed the rig following the repairs, he discovered that the main closing loop was more than two inches too long. The main closing pin had no tension on it at all in this configuration. He shortened the loop to the correct length and helped the owner of the rig understand why it is essential for everyone in the airplane and on the skydive to have the proper tension on the closing pin to prevent an inadvertent container opening.
“The Front Office” is your worldly salvation when it comes to answering questions about jump pilots and piloting. We talk about what exactly pilots do behind the scenes to make your favorite time of week happen. We talk about what they see, what decisions they face and why they might be in a bad mood between loads. We talk about why you are wrong if you haven’t seen “Top Gun.” Mostly, you get a one-of-a-kind inside view from the one seat in the airplane you never get to be in.
There are several modern AADs available for skydivers to choose from, all of which offer jumpers the ability to offset the activation altitude (temporarily change the activation-altitude settings to compensate for a landing area that is higher or lower than the point of departure). Additionally, both the Airtec CYPRES 2 and the Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil 2+ offer a feature that allows users to increase the activation altitude semi-permanently (until the user changes it again).
A jumper experienced a main-parachute malfunction when the slider remained at the top of the lines after deployment and would not allow the parachute to inflate. He released the main parachute, deployed his reserve and landed safely.
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?
In 2017, USPA conducted five standardization meetings for all current AFF instructor examiners and tandem instructor examiners, as well as those pursuing an examiner rating or attending purely for educational purposes. This was USPA’s first attempt at hosting the AFF and tandem meetings in one location and condensing the length of each discipline’s meeting to one day instead of two. The meetings went well, but the shorter meetings meant leaving out a lot of valuable information and discussion.
Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Isaac Hansen. Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com.
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.
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.
Have you ever spent months working with a student, ensuring that you covered each category and transferred the necessary knowledge and skills, then proudly stamped the A-license card and watched in disbelief as he ran off to sign up for a 10-way speedstar competition with a freshly mounted GoPro on his helmet?
Skydiving coaches, instructors and instructor examiners would much rather spend time in the air skydiving than on the ground handling paperwork. While this is understandable (hey, nobody likes to fill out forms, right?), each rating holder’s administrative responsibilities are extremely important.
“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.
After landing, a jumper set his brakes and left the rig for a packer. The packer noticed that the jumper had stowed the left brake incorrectly by placing the toggle through the cat’s eye above the metal guide ring, which will not secure the brake line. The brake line would have released during deployment and resulted in a spinning main parachute if the other brake remained stowed. This common packing error is easily preventable by paying attention and stowing your brakes correctly.
(More articles being added every day!)
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