USPA Competition Blog – Big Boy Pants Comp

July 29, 2011 by

Who: 26 of the world’s best canopy pilots (by invitation only)

What: Big Boy Pants Canopy Piloting Record Attempts

When: Friday, July 29, through Sunday, July 31

Where: Mile-Hi Skydiving Center, Longmont, Colorado

Why: Set canopy piloting state, national and world records

Practice day is done, the competitor’s brief is complete, the course and judges are ready, and this morning begins the assault on the world’s canopy piloting records. General consensus, based on the practice runs yesterday, is that it’s not a question of if, but of how many times the world records for speed and distance will be surpassed. With the density altitude hovering at 8,000 from mid-morning to late afternoon, we saw some amazing speeds and distances on practice runs yesterday. Today we’ll begin with four rounds of speed, a right-hand carve with a slight following wind from the east. Everyone’s stoked about the format, which allows competitors to bail on bad or even mediocre runs, and then go right back up, make the adjustments, and go all-out on the next run. At the end of the competition, only the best three rounds of speed and accuracy are taken for each competitor, and the ranking from those two events will be combined with the best score out of two rounds of zone accuracy. Performance Designs has put up $6,000 of prize money—$2,000 for a speed world record, $2,000 for a distance world record, and $2,000 to the best overall competitor. My prediction is as follows: three new world speed records will be set, the best run will be sub-2.0 seconds; and six distance world records will be set, the best run will exceed 200 meters. Why fewer speed records? Because you still have to make it around the turn—the speed event is measured over a carving 70-meter arc, so it’s just like a Formula One racer going around a tight turn … you can only go so fast. Hence, the speed advantage of the thin air is limited by the radius of the turn. It’s going to be an exciting three days! Check back soon for updates and another post. I hope to have news of a new world speed record to report.

— James Hayhurst, USPA Director of Competition

USPA Helps Further Dialogue between Aviacom and Container Manufacturers

July 22, 2011 by

Shortly after several rig manufacturers withdrew approval for Aviacom’s Argus AAD to be installed in their rigs, I heard from many skydivers and DZOs who were frustrated with a lack of information and uncertainty about any resolution. Many asked that USPA “do something.” Even though USPA is a member association, not a trade association or regulatory body, I felt compelled to see if there was some way we could help.

With help from USPA staff, I arranged for a conference call with each of the rig manufacturers to hear first-hand of their concerns and whether there was hope for a resolution. We learned that the individual manufacturers finally reacted to a growing concern over the ability of the Argus to cleanly sever the reserve closing loop after an activation of the AAD in at least three previous incidents. We were also able to get the manufacturers to discuss the type of testing protocol that they wanted to see performed by Aviacom to resolve those concerns. We learned that useful dialogue had broken down between the parties.

Once we had the list of state concerns, I contacted Karel Goorts of Aviacom, and made arrangements for another conference call involving Karel, USPA staff and me. Karel expressed an eagerness to resolve the issue and described testing that he was willing to perform with involvement by the rig manufacturers. He also expressed a willingness to reestablish and enhance communication with the manufacturers while trying to resolve the issues.

Finally, USPA shared the information between Karel and the rig manufacturers and urged both sides to remember that our members (and their customers!) deserve their efforts to try to work toward a solution. Since then, one manufacturer has reapproved the Argus for their rigs. The two sides still have much ground to cover, but at least there is now some open communication that will hopefully lead to progress. I hope for those of you who own an Argus that the solution comes quickly.

Competition News from the Board Meeting in Denver

July 20, 2011 by

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.

USPA Online – Thank You, Everyone!

March 16, 2011 by

This is “G.” again, your friendly neighborhood web-guy. I just wanted to say a few things and give out a few updates.

This week we hit 1,000 followers on Twitter. We are also nearing 11,000 fans on Facebook, and that’s not all. Our followers and fans tend to be some of the most respectful and polite web users I’ve encountered – no trolls in our midst.  So, this is a thank you for being there, being square and being stable.

On another note, the only request I received so far regarding Parachutist Online was from skydiving drupalers who would like a write-up on how the site was made. I haven’t forgotten about it. We also have a few things floating around regarding a complete archive of Parachutist available online, but nothing set in stone yet.

Still, if there’s anything you would like to see, send us some feedback through the website or e-mail communications@uspa.org.

We hope you guys are enjoying the dynamics with USPA staff online, and again, thank you for being there.

PS: The free SIM App for iPhone is doing very well as well, which makes me really jealous of all you iPhone users. But not for much longer—the Android version is on track to be released in less than two months!

Links Recap:
Parachutist Online – http://parachutistonline.com
SIM App (for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) – here
USPA 65th Anniversary Commemorative Items – USPA Shop

USPA Acts Against Indiana Bill

March 2, 2011 by

Within days of learning from USPA members and Indianapolis attorneys Amy Romig and Brett Nelson that a bill to regulate skydiving had been introduced in the Indiana State Senate, a “steering committee” comprised of Romig, Nelson, Mideastern Regional Director Randy Allison, USPA Director of Government Relations Randy Ottinger, and USPA Executive Director Ed Scott conferenced and devised a plan. Within a week, Scott and Romig convened a meeting of Indiana drop zone operators and their S&TAs in Indianapolis. The group then met with the sponsoring state senator and pressed him for the reasons he had introduced the bill. Hearing no good reason from him, we parted agreeing to disagree. Later that day, a smaller group was able to speak to the chairman of the Senate Commerce & Economic Development Committee, through which the bill would have to pass. The chairman wanted more information from USPA about existing federal regulations and about USPA’s safety programs. USPA provided that information within less than a day, along with an argument that FAA regulation and USPA oversight worked well. The USPA also highlighted that there are certainly no safety problems in Indiana. The USPA heard a few weeks ago that the committee chairman was convinced that state regulation of skydiving is unnecessary and that the Senate Commerce & Economic Development Committee will not move the bill. As of February 23, the last day for the third reading of Senate bills, the proposed legislation had not been called for either a 2nd or a 3rd reading and will therefore not pass as drafted this legislative session. Thanks go out to the Indiana DZOs and S&TAs who dropped what they were doing to join us on very short notice, and to all Indiana members of USPA for their assistance. This outcome is a great example of how the USPA and its members can work together to ensure that the best interests of skydiving are represented in each state.

Parachutist Online – Extreme Makeover!

February 11, 2011 by

So, this is probably something nobody was expecting just yet. We hadn’t announced anything before. No mention was made to the public. In essence, we kept it pretty “hush, hush.” But, after months of work, very stressful months at that, I’m glad to announce that the Parachutist Online website is now redesigned!

There’s a lot of content there, but there’s still a lot more to do. So, we are rolling this out as a Beta, which means major features and changes can be implemented without much notice. It all depends on you guys. Part of the reason I’m writing this blog is that, aside from announcing the site, we are also looking for feedback. Things like:

What do you think of the site?  What’s interesting? What’s lacking? What would you like to see done or changed?

I’m not pretending the website is perfect, but a lot of work went into it, and I’m rather proud.

Also, there are some things that we are either working on currently, or can’t start working on until a few other things get settled. All feedback will be taken into account, but that does not necessarily mean everything can be implemented. To leave feedback, you can comment on this post or use the feedback button on the homepage of the Parachutist Online website.

Oh! And here’s some information and specifications for those interested:

Parachutist Online is running on Drupal 6.x. (Great CMS!) Right now we are publishing all of the Safety & Training section, minus Incident Reports which will still be under USPA, the more personal section, which we’ve named “Columns” for the time being and one or two Features per month.
Everybody can comment wherever there’s a comment section, but until we implement a user interface (which is one of those things I can’t start working on just yet) all comments will be monitored and approved beforehand. That’s not to say we’ll be monitoring for dissension, we just want to prevent profanity and those pesky internet spammers.

That about sums it up.

On a final note, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m the web guy, social media guy and Advertising Manager for Parachutist. I’ll be posting a bit of a Developer’s Blog from now on to let you know on what new things, if anything, we are working, or just toss a random idea for review.

Blue Skies!

Election Turnout Nearly Doubles

January 6, 2011 by

By every metric, USPA’s move to online voting for the biennial board election was a success. The number of completed ballots totaled 6,441, with 5,661 (87.8%) submitted online and 760 (12.2%) using the paper ballot. In the previous election that used paper ballots only, the ballot total was 3,290. So there was a 95.7% increase in member participation. From the perspective of staff resources, staff workload was reduced about four-fold. To validate, batch and count the ballots two years ago involved four people devoting an entire week to the process. This time, it required only occasional attention by one staff member. Plus, results were known within two business days of the election’s end. Every prior election took a week to ten days to produce the results. Member comments were overwhelmingly favorable. Yes, there were a couple of glitches and some members’ spam blockers and e-mail settings interfered with their use of the online ballot. We’ll perform an after-action analysis to see if we can address the few problems next time. There will be a full report to the board at the February meeting and an article in the March issue of Parachutist.

Voting Online in USPA’s Election

November 2, 2010 by

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 by

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.

USPA Nationals Website Explained

September 13, 2010 by

We’ve been asked to explain the disappearance of a website that intended to cover the USPA Nationals. Here goes. One of the main reasons a DZ bids to host the USPA Nationals is for the resulting exposure to skydivers as well as the general public. A Nationals host DZ is anxious to have its website host reporting of the event, to drive up web traffic and increase its search engine ranking. This was the case this year as well, with Skydive Chicago making plans early to host Nationals team photos, standings, scores, official updates and informal blogging on its DZ’s website here.
Two days before the 2010 Nationals started, USPA was contacted by a third-party that had activated a website using USPA’s name in the url and USPA’s name and trademark on the homepage. The website claimed that it would feature team photos, standings, scores, reports, etc., all without requesting or receiving permission from either USPA or Skydive Chicago. USPA had no control over the site, and there was incorrect and misleading information on it. With plans already firmly in place for web coverage, USPA had no choice but to request that the third-party site come down.