Archive for the ‘skydiving’ Category

Giving Skydiving a Positive Image—One Step at a Time

October 15, 2012

Skydiving has come a long way from the days of the general public seeing us as a bunch of reckless daredevils with a death wish. But there are still plenty of people out there who don’t understand what skydiving and skydivers are all about. As an organization, USPA needs to take whatever steps we can—both big and small—to change the public’s misperceptions and inform the media and the general public about our sport.

Recently, an article appeared in the “Fairbanks Daily News Miner” in Fairbanks, Alaska, that disparaged skydivers. This unrelated news article about traffic violations included a quote from the Fairbanks police chief’s memo to his department: “Our profession has only recently come to appreciate the irrefutable correlation between collisions and crime, a relationship that is explained easily: Risk-taking behaviors of any sort — gambling, skydiving, careless driving or committing crimes — need a place and opportunity to happen.” A concerned USPA member in Alaska forwarded the article to USPA, expressing his dismay at skydiving being grouped with reckless and criminal activities.

This seemed like a great opportunity to educate the police chief, his department and the newspapers’ readers about our sport—even in a place with minimal skydiving activity like Alaska. As USPA President, I sent a letter to the police chief and the newspaper explaining that skydiving is a legitimate aeronautical activity and hobby and that skydivers are a diverse group of people who are upstanding, contributing members of society. You can read the letter here.

An off-handed statement like the police chief’s may not seem like a big deal, but it’s in small ways like this that people can get the wrong impression about skydiving—especially when it’s directed to those whose job it is to enforce the law. USPA and all its 34,600 members need to take every opportunity to help the general public understand that ours is an amazing, life-changing sport and that we as skydivers are responsible aviation enthusiasts.

Jay Stokes
USPA President

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Records Broken at the Big Boy Pants CP Comp

August 1, 2011

A remarkable 10 national and world records (and 17 personal bests) were set by the world’s best canopy pilots at Mile-Hi Skydiving Center in Longmont, Colorado, this weekend. Highlights included the U.S. and world speed and distance records set in the female category by the PD Factory Team’s Jessica Edgeington (2.301 seconds and 168.32 meters, respectively) and the astounding world distance record set on the first day by Nick Batsch, who lives and trains at Longmont. Jumping only moments after PD Factory Team pilot Jonathan Tagle smashed the standing 181-meter record with a gorgeous 195.65-meter flight, the now-former record-holder Batch flew his NZAerosports “Petra” prototype a mind-boggling 222.45 meters to take his record back. Serving as a judge on the far end of the distance course along with Canadian judge Buzz Bennett, I was privileged to assist Bennett in marking the landing, which was then verified by Chief Judge Marylou Laughlin. It was a transcendent moment of sport for me (this after 40 years in skydiving), like watching Bob Beamon’s historic 29-foot broad jump at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Like Beamon’s world record jump, Batsch’s flight was aided by thin, high-altitude air and a tail wind of 6.7 m/s,  just under the limit of 7 m/s.

National records were also set by Jason Moledzki of Canada, Thomas Morris of Germany, Pablo Hernandez of Spain, and Edson Pacheco of Brazil. Only the world speed record of 2.093 seconds held by Golden Knight Greg Windmiller remained intact after the three days of blazing action, but not for trying, with two competitors, Tagle and Batsch, challenging the record with runs of 2.096 and 2.095 seconds, respectively. Meet sponsor Performance Designs awarded $2,000 to Batsch for his new world record, and an additional $4,000 in prize money was also given to the top five overall competitors: 1) Batsch, 2) Curt Bartholomew, 3) Moledzki, 4) Windmiller and 5) Hernandez.

The only serious injury of the competition was suffered by Warren Cleary of Georgia, who remains hospitalized in stable condition. Many of the prize winners and most competitors and spectators donated money to help Cleary, and the donations were generously matched by Mile-Hi Skydiving.

The FLCPA or PD Factory Team websites will soon be posting complete results.

– Jim Hayhurst, USPA Director of Competition

Competition News from the Board Meeting in Denver

July 20, 2011

Brian Krause has been selected as team manager for the 2011 Formation Skydiving (FS) World Cup. For the 2011 Dubai Cup, Larry Hill is head of delegation, Lindy Leach is team manager for Canopy Formation and Accuracy, and Shawn Hill is team manager for Canopy Piloting (CP) and FS. The following qualified teams/competitors can expect to be contacted by their respective team manager this month:

Formation Skydiving:
Perris Fury – 4-way, Male/Mixed (official entry)
SDC Rhythm XP – 4-way, Male/Mixed (team 2)
Alpha Armada – 4-way, Female (official entry)

Canopy Formation:
Motley CReW – 4-way Rotation (official entry)
The Next Best Team – 4-way Rotation (team 2)
Maytown Short Stack – 2-way Sequential (official entry)
The Next Best Team – 2-way Sequential (team 2)
The Next Best Team – 4-way Sequential (official entry)

Team Accuracy, Male/Mixed (official entry):
1)    Cheryl Stearns
2)    Jim Hayhurst
3)    Rick Kuhns
4)    Jimmy Drummond
5)    Marius Ivascu

Team Accuracy, Male/Mixed (team 2):
1)    Dennis Murphy
2)    Marty Jones
3)    Edin Alisa
4)    Mery Rose
5)    Samir Kurtovic

The Competition Committee decided that any slots that open up for Dubai will be filled based on results of the 2011 USPA Nationals.

In other competition news, Albert Berchtold will be meet director of the 2011 CP Nationals at Skydive Spaceland in Texas; Chief Judge Judy Celaya will introduce a new, streamlined FS judging procedure at this year’s USPA Nationals at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Male style & accuracy competitors should expect an e-mail this month requesting their vote on two team selection methods applicable for the 2012 WPC World Parachuting Championships; competitors who don’t receive the e-mail should contact competition@uspa.org.

Standards for national records have been raised; two national judges and one regional judge must validate the record, and 51 percent of the participants on group records attempts must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents per the requirements in Section 1 of the Skydiver’s Competition Manual. Finally, with the board’s approval, USPA Headquarters is moving forward to develop a pilot program to present the U.S. Team at airshows and public events in the near future—an innovative way to earn direct income and attract sponsors for our U.S. Teams.

Voting Online in USPA’s Election

November 2, 2010

USPA’s first online election for the board of directors kicked off Monday morning, November 1, with an e-mail blast to all current USPA members who have a valid e-mail address on file. Some early voters encountered initial problems with the link, but the vendor quickly reconfigured some settings to resolve the issue. Anyone who received the e-mail but could not voter earlier is encouraged to go back and try it again.

If you did not receive the e-mail—

  • Check to make sure your membership is current.
  • Check your spam and/or junk folders for the e-mail.
  • Make sure votenet.com and uspa.org are included in your e-mail’s list of approved contacts.

Current members who did not receive the link should either vote using a paper ballot or submit your e-mail address here. Within 10 days from submitting the e-mail address at USPA Headquarters, you should receive an e-mail from cvincent@uspa.org containing a link to the voting website. The website recognizes the member’s encrypted user name and unique password and logs the member in, displaying candidate information for national directors, as well as regional directors for the voter’s region. Write-in spaces are provided for each. To indicate your selection, be sure to click the box next to any candidate’s name, including write-ins.

For added security, the e-mailed link will expire in three days from when the e-mail was sent. USPA will send a weekly e-mail reminder to all eligible voters who have not completed the voting process, so if the link expired, keep an eye out for the next e-mail or vote by paper ballot. If you started voting but didn’t finish, your partially completed ballot will be saved, and the link in the reminder e-mail will return you to your ballot.

While we’ve received several comments that the online voting process was easy to use, we’re aware that a few members have had problems. If you are one of those few, e-mail an explanation of your issue to cvincent@uspa.org.

Voting is open until 5 p.m. EST, December 31, but don’t delay. Vote now!

Canopy Safety Discussion

October 13, 2010

One of USPA’s responsibilities is to track and analyze safety data, and disseminate it so that others can be aware of accident trends. My “Gearing Up” commentary in the October Parachutist was intended to elaborate on the recent advisory we sent out about the rising trend in canopy-related fatalities. [See advisory here.] The piece went on to describe the many steps taken to educate skydivers and mitigate the problem.

Already, the USPA staff and the board’s Safety & Training Committee are developing ideas on possible solutions to present to the full board. We’re doing so with an open mind and are trying to investigate all possibilities. Here are some of the questions we’re asking:

Does USPA need to …

  • alter the Integrated Student Program to include more canopy-skills training?
  • alter any licensing requirements to include more canopy-flight training?
  • certify canopy flight coaches and/or instructors?
  • require jumpers to attend dedicated canopy courses for licenses or ratings?
  • restrict wing loading by license level?
  • require DZs to post landing areas and patterns?

We’d like your thoughts, too. We’ve created a web page for you to post and share your comments. You’ll see a more in-depth explanation of our thoughts and you’re welcome to respond to those, or share your own ideas. We’re all in this together, and we’re all going to need to work together to reduce canopy-related accidents.

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.

Blue Skies, Patrick Swayze

September 16, 2009

To the general public, Patrick Swayze—who died at age 57 this week—will best be remembered for the films Dirty Dancing and Ghost. To skydivers of the day he’ll be remembered for Point Break. And for two reasons. First, Swayze took up skydiving at Perris Valley so that he could film many of the skydiving scenes himself. According to co-star Keanu Reeves, the production company issued Swayze a cease-and-desist order to stop skydiving; he kept jumping anyway. Along the way he joined USPA and earned his A license. Second, the movie’s release in 1991 brought a flood of first-jump customers out to DZs nationwide. Those customers didn’t find skydivers bantering in five-minute freefalls, but many did find a sport of their own as shown by USPA’s membership totals. Membership rose from 20,000 at the end of 1990 to 26,150 in 1992, and steady increases in subsequent years. Thanks, Patrick, for boosting our sport. Blue Skies.

The Poetry of Skydiving

August 25, 2009

Scott Van Allen is one of the finalists in the mixed media category of the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest.

Rachel Carson was a renowned American biologist who dedicated her life to the preservation of nature. Now, the EPA, along with Generations United, the Rachel Carson Council, Inc., and the Dance Exchange, conduct an annual contest in her name with the purpose of combining nature and art. The Sense of Wonder entry criterion was to describe something “that best expresses the Sense of Wonder that you feel for the sea, the night sky, forests, birds, wildlife, and all that is beautiful to your eyes.”

Scott submitted a poem and picture as his mixed media entry titled “All We Need Is The Sky.”

The winner will be chosen through online voting, so head to http://yosemite.epa.gov/oa/agingepa/rcvote.nsf/fmVote?OpenForm and vote for “All We Need Is The Sky” under the mixed media category and help Scott promote our sport. Voting closes October 1st.

Let’s Do a Dive for Shifty—and his Brothers

July 22, 2009

You may have recently seen a sentimental email about the June 17 passing of Darrell “Shifty” Powers at age 86.  If not, read about it here on Snopes:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/shiftypowers.asp

While Snopes can’t verify the source of the reported encounter, “Shifty,” as he was known, was real, and so was his bravery as he served with Easy Company of the 101st Airborne in the dangerous days and months following his drop on D-Day.

It turns out that skydivers have a perfect opportunity to honor Shifty and his band of brothers. Sunday, August 16, is National Airborne Day, a day annually commemorated by Congress to remember and honor those servicemen who volunteered to earn their jump wings and serve our country as an airborne soldier. (Read my blog about last year’s National Airborne Day here: https://skydiveuspa.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/national-airborne-day/)

So here’s the thought: Let’s honor Shifty—and his band of brothers—with a memorial skydive. Actually with lots of memorial skydives. Why not organize a memorial dive at your DZ that day? You could form an “A” for Airborne, an “E” for Easy Company, or a “101” for the 101st. Or form a star (if large enough, let a veteran fly in the center), and facing each other with joined grips, give thanks to Shifty and all those who set aside their lives, answered their country’s call, and literally saved the world.

So do a dive for Shifty and his band of brothers and let us know how it went. Send your description of the jump and any photos or links to videos to communications@uspa.org. You don’t have to stop there. Nearly every assisted living facility has WW II veterans who would thoroughly enjoy a visit by a bunch of skydivers expressing appreciation for their service. After all, we not only owe them for their service; we also owe them for sowing the seeds for our sport. It was post-war veterans that wanted to continue jumping out of airplanes who began what became the sport of skydiving.

Parachutist’s 600th

July 16, 2009

As you may have read in July’s Five-Minute Call, in October, Parachutist will print its 600th issue. We are working on a pictorial and looking for crazy, skydiving-related things involving the number 600. Send us a picture with the most amusing ideas you can come up with to communications@uspa.org or Submit a Photo.

Best picture wins a cookie! – Well, no, not really, but you do get compensation for print use.

Oh, yeah! Remember! High-res pictures only.