Author Archive

Skydiving Fatality Stats for 2009 at 40-Year Low

January 6, 2010

Following a November 11 fatality, we held our breath for the final six weeks of 2009; and on January 1, we could finally breathe a sigh of relief that there were no additional fatalities for the year. We ended 2009 with 16 total civilian fatalities, the fewest in more than four decades. In fact, you have to go back to 1961 to find a lower annual total. To put this in perspective, 1961 ended with 14 fatalities and just 3,353 members. The following year ended with 19 fatalities, and membership had nearly doubled in 1962 to 6,658 members. Fast forward to 2009, and membership is now at 32,177, and it is safe to say that the nearly 3 million jumps made in 2009 far surpassed the number of jumps made by 6,658 members in 1962. A 2009 membership total of nearly five times the membership in 1962, yet there were three fewer fatalities in 2009!

The reduction in fatalities can be attributed to lots of reasons, including safer equipment and better training. But, it is also a tribute to every skydiver, instructor, rigger, S&TA and drop zone manager who all worked to keep skydiving as safe as possible. Keep it up, and let’s make 2010 even safer for everyone, from the thousands of first-jump students, to those who are making thousands of jumps each year.


Instructor Examiner course

October 30, 2008

The new Instructor Examiner course is shaping up nicely. The latest one just wrapped up in Los Angeles last week. The course syllabus has been tweaked after each of the previous courses that have been run this year, and this was the first course using the finalized version. It was attended by seven highly experienced instructors, representing a total of more than 120 cumulative years of teaching experience and tens of thousands of skydives. Even with all that experience in the room, each candidate found the course to be well worth the time and effort it took to attend. And three of the candidates flew from either Russia or Dubai to Los Angeles! So, if someone sees enough value in this course to fly halfway around the world to attend, what is stopping you?

This course is designed to prepare very experienced instructors to become instructor examiners, and it is just one of the requirements necessary to become an examiner for coach or instructor rating courses. Many of the courses so far have been attended by existing course examiners (formerly called course directors) who are stepping up to take this course, even though it is not a requirement. Even these experienced examiners are learning some great tips on how to improve the rating courses they have already been teaching for years. And the same tips and techniques can be used while training students as well as instructor candidates.

Continuing education is so valuable, and each of us who train students and instructors will come away from this course as a much better trainer. There should be more courses available soon, and it will be easier than ever to find one listed on the USPA course calendar and sign up to attend. The next IE course is scheduled for mid-November in Clewiston, Florida. Check out  the list of all USPA rating courses on the USPA website.

No one likes rejection

August 27, 2008

As much as we hate to whine, the license applications and rating course paperwork we have been receiving lately could really use improvement! We are having to reject many license or rating applications because they have not been filled out correctly by the instructor, or instructor examiner. Help us take care of the license and rating applications in a timely manner by following these simple guidelines:


  • The A license cards must have each line item completed with the appropriate date, jump number or instructor initials and license number.
  • Scribbling your initials in large letters across the page doesn’t count!
  • Initialing the top item and drawing a line through the rest of the requirements doesn’t count either!
  • If you are faxing the license application, make a copy on white paper first and fax the white copy rather than the yellow card.
  • The B-D license application must be completely filled out, including the jump numbers used for the accuracy requirements, the water training date and test scores, jump number or dates for the maneuvers required for the B and C license and dates of the two night jumps for a D license application)
  • A final signature and membership number for the verifying instructor (B and C license application only), Instructor Examiner or S&TA (B, C and D license application) is required,
  • The person signing for licenses and ratings must have a current membership and ratings with USPA, so make sure you are current before you sign a license application or rating renewal


  • Every USPA Coach or Instructor rating course must be registered at USPA Headquarters by sending the course dates and details in an email to or by calling 540-604-9740 extension 315.
  • USPA Tandem instructor rating applications must include a copy of the FAA third class medical exam or the foreign or military equivalent.
  • Coach and Instructor proficiency cards must be signed or dated on each appropriate line.
  • Instructions on how to convert a manufacturers tandem rating to a USPA Tandem Instructor rating can be found on the USPA website.
  • Be sure to include a copy of the FAA 3rd class medical certificate, or the foreign or military equivalent, for any USPA Tandem Instructor rating.
  • If you are faxing the rating application, make a copy on white paper and fax the white copy rather than the colored card.