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.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen very experienced skydivers walking around munching on snacks between jumps with all their gear on but their leg straps hanging straight down instead of being around their legs. It’s the cool look, I guess. But forgetting that last step at the last moment would certainly be fatal, in my humble opinion.
When I was a child, I thought that I could fly. In my dreams, I hovered in the living room and floated out the door into the street. I hovered like a dragonfly in slow motion as I examined the trees and architecture of my neighborhood up close. I didn’t realize that it was a dream; it was so intense, I believed it really happened. I blame this weird dream for my delusions of flying.
Travis Mills, D-27249, is a world-class canopy pilot who flies competitively for the PD Factory Team and is a canopy coach for Flight-1. He is also talented in freefall and has been on numerous world-record-setting big-way jumps and medaled in freestyle and vertical formation skydiving at the world championships. The most recent of his many accomplishments are winning the first meet and taking silver overall at the two-meet 2018 Swoop Freestyle World Championships and taking bronze overall at the 2018 USPA Canopy Piloting Nationals.
Watercolor and ink on canvas
After deciding to retire from the sport, Andy Tuman (blue jumpsuit, purple grippers) makes his farewell skydive with friends at Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, New York.
Photo by Laszlo Andacs | D-22468
As part of a new privacy initiative beginning January 1, new USPA members must specifically designate that USPA can share their accomplishments (licenses, ratings and awards) and contributions (donations to one of the four USPA funds) in print in Parachutist. New members must now also opt in for USPA to share their accomplishments and display their membership cards digitally through Sig.ma. Previously, members did not need to opt in before USPA listed their credentials but had the ability to opt out.
Members of Fly Team Evil exit a balloon during the suicide-prevention event.
All USPA Foreign Affiliate memberships of non-U.S. drop zones that did not submit their annual renewals expired December 31. USPA is in the process of removing any non-renewing Foreign Affiliate’s listing from Parachutist and the USPA website. If a DZ renews after membership has lapsed, it may take several months for the listing to reappear in the magazine due to publication deadlines and print cycles. Foreign Affiliate DZs that wish to renew should contact the Group Membership department at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
In “The 2018 USPA National Skydiving Championships” by Steve Hubbard in the November issue:
• The winner of the 2017 10-way speed event was Arizona Airspeed.
• The advanced wingsuit performance flying guest competitor from Moldova was Iurii Cartev.
• In 4-way intermediate formation skydiving, SDC Rhevolution XP was a guest team. TSC Cadence, SDMW X and Hands Free took gold, silver and bronze, respectively.
Jim Tafralian, USPA #1298, started his jump career in 1971 at the age of 20 at Midwest Sport Parachute Club near Monroe, Michigan. Early in his jump career, Tafralian became interested in formation skydiving and competed in 10-way speed on the Beechnuts team. In 1974, he was part of the groups who built a 28-way round and a 20-way night round at Zephyrhills Parachute Center (now Skydive City Zephyrhills) in Florida. He also became a Federal Aviation Administration Master Rigger and Commercial Pilot.
Joe Kelly, Tyler Moran and Cathy Leone, all members of the U.S. Air Force, make a patriotic hybrid jump at Skydive Arizona in Eloy.
The weather was perfect for the 10th Annual Halloween Carnivale hosted by Skydive Arizona in Eloy October 26-28. Skydivers enjoyed three beautiful days of jumps from the drop zone’s fleet of aircraft, including the DC-3. Vertical formation skydiving team Arizona Anthem organized Crazy Eights, an 8-way VFS event, while Thiago Gomez and Niklas Hemlin of formation skydiving team Arizona Airspeed organized the belly groups. Saturday’s costume contest was spook-tacular, and Danielle Lakota Barlow took home the grand prize, a Rigging Innovations Curv container, for her fortune teller costume. The boogie was a great start to the winter season in Arizona.
When chess grandmaster Timur Gareyev won the 119th edition of the venerable U.S. Chess Open over almost 400 other players, Chess Life magazine knew that it had to do something special with the adventurous player for its November 2018 cover. As an ultramarathoner, yoga enthusiast and blindfold-chess Guinness World Record holder, the Kansas-based player who was born in Uzbekistan could inspire a potentially exciting photo. But it was when his manager Jennifer Vallens told the magazine’s editors that Gareyev is also a skydiver with close to 150 solo jumps that U.S. Chess—the 501(c)3 non-profit that publishes Chess Life—knew a cover was born.
In late October, just before the end of the board election, then-Pacific Regional Director Ron Bell accepted a position at USPA, which made him ineligible to serve on the board. In a special meeting in November, USPA’s board of directors convened to decide how to treat the Pacific Regional Director election since Bell, who received the most votes, was ineligible to be elected. Because Brett Martin was on the ballot and received the second-most number of votes, the board declared him to be the Pacific Regional Director when the 2019-2021 board begins its term on February 1.
Members of Skydive Suffolk in Virginia pose for the camera after performing a demo jump into a Toys for Tots event, where they also donated more than $150 worth of toys to the cause.
Skydive Empuriabrava in Spain hosted a fundraising event for the Sky Family Fund, which raises money for victims of skydiving and BASE accidents, on November 16. The Sky Family Fund is part of the Care-All Foundation, whose mission is to give people the possibilities for better lives. Founded in early 2018, Care-All has already provided educational and business funding for recipients in Nepal, Kenya and Zambia, helped support an orphanage in Kenya and—through the Sky Family Fund—assisted two people injured in air-sports accidents.
United Parachute Technologies recently introduced its Mutant harness-and-container system, which the company designed to maximize performance in canopy flight. In contrast to familiar systems, the Mutant suspends the pilot in the supine position—resting back with the feet stretched forward—which is an efficient flying position resembling a paragliding pilot’s. This position reduces drag, thus allowing for more speed and range, and is also very comfortable, according to UPT.
Anticipation is high for the 2019 British Parachute Association Skydive the Expo after record crowds attended the 2018 event. The event, hosted at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham, U.K., will feature seminars from leading skydiving experts, a large exhibition hall and BPA’s annual awards ceremony, as well as after-hours parties. More information is available at skydivetheexpo.com.
At Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, New York, Jim Cupples, D-23572, ﬂies his canopy back to the DZ during his 10,000th jump.
At Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, New York, AFF student Kyle Nielson makes his required hop-and-pop jump from 3,500 feet.
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.
(More articles being added every day!)
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