(This is an on-line version of the hard-copy report sent to Central Region Drop Zone Operators and Safety & Training Advisors.)

Gary Peek - 3201 Highgate Lane - St. Charles, MO - 63301 - Home Phone (314) 946-5272
Email: peek@freefall.com - WWW: http://www.freefall.com/~peek

Regional Director's Report - February 1998

Please post this report on your drop zone's bulletin board.

About this report:

This report is to help inform USPA members in our region of significant issues and changes in our organization that may affect them, and to reiterate and clarify those issues and changes reported in current USPA publications. I try to issue these reports shortly after USPA Board of Directors meetings take place, since that is when BSR's, recommendations, and policies are most likely to change. Since there are about 2400 USPA members in our region, I certainly can't send it to everyone, but I make it available to as many people as I can by sending it to your drop zone and to S&TA's. If you have any questions about USPA or the issues in this report, a good place to start is with the person or organization whose name appears on the mailing address of this report. It is likely that they will have experience and familiarity with USPA matters.

No time to read it right now?

We all know how busy a drop zone can be when the weather is good, and how little time we have for things like reading a newsletter when we are there. For this reason I have put this issue and previous issues of the newsletter on my Internet World Wide Web site ("home page"). So if you don't have time to read this right now, then please write down my web site address or make a photocopy of this report and take a look at it when you have more time. The address is

Send me Email

I am in the process of collecting email addresses to help fill out my list of contacts with skydivers. I am particularly interested in getting your email address if you are a drop zone, drop zone operator, S&TA, or hold a USPA instructional rating. (See the section on my Sport Development committee work.)

Awards Applications, Membership and Ratings Renewals

A reminder to those of you who have qualified for those thousand-jump milestones and freefall time awards: See your S&TA for an application form and for verification of the qualifications before sending the application to me. Also, your membership and ratings renewals should go through your S&TA unless your ratings require a sign-off from a BOD member or if you cannot find someone with the required ratings to sign your form.

The January 1998 Board of Directors Meeting

The January meeting was held in West Palm Beach, Florida. Although it is nice to get away to warmer weather for a few days, most of our time is spent in conference rooms. My big chance to enjoy the weather was part of one committee meeting at a table outside by the pool. The summer 1998 meeting will be in the Portland, Oregon area, but after that, we may decide to hold most meetings near USPA headquarters. Our organization and its documentation is getting so large and complicated that we need as many Headquarters staff at the meeting as possible to help keep it straightened out and help us understand it, and it is much cheaper if we do not have to pay for their travel also.

The Document Repair Project:

USPA headquarters and the Board of Directors have taken on the major task of reviewing and updating USPA's complete set of documents. Over the years, as our organization has grown, the paperwork has grown too, but not in as ideal a way as any of us would have liked. Some documents became obsolete but were never updated, and other were created but were not consistant with previous documents. Work started on this project after the last BOD meeting and will continue through at least the end of this year. What we will wind up with is a more streamlined system and some features that will help our members. In addition to the Skydivers Information Manual (SIM), there will soon be a new Skydivers Competition Manual that contains all organization documents pertaining to competition, and a Policy Manual (mainly used by the Board and Headquarters.)

My committee work:

Membership Services

Parachutist continues to improve and increase in number of pages, but the Publication department would still like to hear what you think of Parachutist, its content, its look, and what you would most like to see in Parachutist.

I must say that I was much too optimistic when I mentioned 6 months ago that USPA's web site would soon be seeing major improvements. I found out that Headquarters had basically put the web site work on hold until our new Director of Communications, Dany Brooks was hired, which took much longer than expected. She is now working for us from her home in California with occasional visits to Headquarters, and I am told that she will be spending considerable time on the web site.

Eventually, USPA forms such as membership applications will be available on the web site to be download and printed. What Headquarters would like to know from you now is which forms you would find most useful to have on the web site. Please send your ideas to Director of Membership Services, Elaine Talbott.

The Electronic Communication Task Force, of which I am a member, is still active and is helping Dany with web site and other data communications issues. The BOD approved a budget which includes the funds required for much needed upgrades to computer hardware and software at Headquarters.

Sport Development

The program to investigate how USPA might be able to help skydiving professionals and the industry of skydiving continues, and some of you have gotten from me via email a survey requesting information about you as a skydiving professional. If you would like me to email the survey to you, just let me know. A future issue of The Professional should contain the survey, so please look for it if you need a paper version. As always, I look forward to comments and suggestions at any time about this topic as well as others.

Safety and Training:

Exhibition jumps

The Safety and Training committee further defined the details of exhibition jumps, their "levels", landing areas, alternate landing areas, and jumper requirements. Professional Exhibition rating proficiency cards are going "to print" and will soon be required for initial applicants for the rating, and rating ID cards will soon have printed on them the size of the smallest canopy used to qualify for the rating.

(Check for details of these and other changes in future issues of Parachutist and The Professional, and in updates to the Skydivers Information Manual (SIM).

And now for the bad news: Exhibition jump insurance is almost surely going to go up, maybe way up. The insurance company has simply had to pay out on too many claims. Let's hope we can even get insurance in the future. And if you know of skydivers who cut corners and otherwise don't give exhibition jumps the attention they need, then tell them what you think. The really professional exhibition teams don't make the kinds of mistakes that lead to insurance claims.

Waivers to the BSR's:

Waivers to USPA's BSR's, or Basic Safety Requirements provide for the development of new techniques and methods as well as allowing certain qualified individuals to meet a temporary need. Those wishing a waiver to the BSR's need to write a letter to the Safety and Training committee, send a copy to their Regional Director, and, to really have a good chance of obtaining the waiver, either attend the BOD meeting where the committee plans to discuss the request, or ask their Regional Director to attend. (Very often, the committee has questions about the waiver request, and cannot get them answered if someone is not available.)

At the January 1998 BOD meeting:

The BOD once again confirmed their belief that altimeters are a minimum standard of safety for all student skydivers by not rescinding their decision at the last BOD meeting to make altimeters on Static-Line students "not waiverable" rather than waiverable by the full BOD, even though representatives from drop zones were present at the meeting to request this waiver again.

J.E. Van Natta, Jr. obtained a waiver to be a BIC Course Director at the present time having participated in only one BIC rather than the 3 normally required, due to his extensive instructional experience: 4300+ hour ATP with CFI and Ground Instructor ratings, multiple skydiving instructional ratings, Skydive University coach rating, (and more).

Skydive Chicago received a waiver to the BSR requiring a ripcord activated spring-loaded pilot chute on student jumpers, to enable Skydive Chicago to continue their innovative research in teaching students to safely use throwout pilot chutes.

Group Membership Program:

USPA hosted yet another Drop Zone Operator conference as part of its Group Member program. The latest conference was held in Las Vegas, NV from January 13th to 15th, 1998. The conference included presentations and discussions among drop zone operators concerning business, legal, staffing, instructional, insurance, and pricing issues.

The Skydiving Operators Association also held another meeting in conjunction with the DZO conference. The SOA is an independant organization that represents drop zones.

Be sure to ask your local drop zone operator if they attended these meetings and what they learned. Running a drop zone is difficult work, and the more you know about skydiving operations, the more you will appreciate your local drop zone and what it takes to keep you in the air.

How to get things done in USPA:

Although our organization is not terribly bureaucratic or cumbersome in most respects, it may sometimes seem so when you are having difficulty finding an answer to a specific question. If you are a drop zone owner or a veteran skydiver you have already figured out how to get things done that need doing and do not need this guide, but for those of you who are new to some of these things, a little help may be in order. The following is a guide to getting things done in USPA: Where to look, and who to contact (and in what order).

HQ = USPA Headquarters: (703) 836-3495   RD  = Your Regional Director
SIM = Skydivers Information Manual       S&TA = Your drop zone's Safety and Training Adviser
PARA = Parachutist magazine              CD = Jumpmaster/Instructor certication Course Director
PROF = The Professional                  DZ  = Drop zone management
For Member Services:
 - Copies of the Skydivers Information Manual (SIM)              DZ, HQ (USPA Store)
 - Requirements for licenses, ratings, and awards                SIM
 - Skydiving license applications                                S&TA
 - Award applications (wings, freefall time, RW & CRW, etc.      S&TA
 - Instructional Rating pre-certification course material        HQ
 - Upcoming instructional certification courses                  PARA
 - Information about USPA programs and changes                   PARA, PROF
 - 10, 15, 20, etc. year USPA membership certificates:           Issued by HQ automatically,
                                                                 if overdue by more than 2
                                                                 months, contact them.
 To Register Complaints:
 - Parachutist magazine delivery problems                        HQ
 - Membership card delivery problems or accuracy                 HQ
 - Ratings cards post-course delivery problems or accuracy       CD, HQ
 - Safety concerns at USPA group member drop zones               DZ, then S&TA, then RD
When You Have Large Problems:
 - Airport access issues                                                                           HQ, RD
 - Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues                  HQ, RD
Making Your Suggestions Heard:
 - Concerning USPA programs and policies                         S&TA, RD (in writing),
                                                                 HQ (in writing),
                                                                 BOD committee (in writing).

end of report