(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 - July 1997

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 plan to issue these reports shortly after USPA Board of Directors meetings take place, and possibly at other times as well.

Although I can only send this report to a small percentage of skydivers in our region (which currently numbers around 2400), my intention is to make it available to as many people as I can. I plan to do this by sending it to drop zones, S&TA's, and other skydivers in our region who are in contact with many skydivers or who visit several drop zones. If you want your own copy of a future report, send me a self-addressed, stamped envelope and I will send you the next available report after I prepare it. Keep sending them and I will keep sending reports.

If you have any questions about our organization 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 years of experience and familiarity with USPA matters.

No time to read this report 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 WWW address is http://www.freefall.com/~peek

Once again, put it in writing...

When you provide input to USPA's programs or when registering complaints for any reason, be sure to write a letter to the person(s) involved. Verbal communication is good, but letters are much better.

Extreme or Mainstream?

In the Capital Commentary column of the December 1996 Parachutist, USPA Executive Director Chris Needels presented this slogan, from USPA's new bumper sticker, as a question to skydivers. He was asking if we thought that skydiving should be considered extreme enough that only select people should be entering our sport, or if it should be considered mainstream enough that we should invite everyone to participate in our sport, thereby increasing the numbers of skydivers and building skydiving as an industry. What do you think? He is still interested in your comments.

The July 1997 Board of Directors Meeting

The July meeting was again held in Alexandria, Virginia, and I again realize the great advantage of having Board meetings there because of the support available from Headquarters staff. However, the Board tries to move meetings around to different areas of the country as much as practical so that members can more easily attend, so the next meeting, in January 1998, will be in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area, and the summer 1998 meeting will be in the Portland, Oregon area.

My committee work:

Membership Services - Many of the improvements that you have been noticing in member services have been at the encouragement of the Membership Services committee, but the committee members can only partially take credit for making them happen. Headquarters staff has been working hard on improvements to Parachutist and its delivery time, as well as the processing of licenses, ratings, and awards.

One improvement the committee can take credit for is future expansion to USPA's web site. You can expect to see the complete Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) online at some point as well as many of the forms and other documents we use in the organization. Only small improvements have been made since the web site was developed, thanks to volunteer work by former staff member Jason Bell and current National Director Mike Perry, but when a Director of Communications is hired at headquarters, work in this area should speed up.

As a temporary measure to help headquarters deal with rapidly changing technology, the Electronic Communication Task Force, of which I am a member, has been formed. Already, USPA headquarters and all of the Directors are using email to communicate and do other business, and the task force is studying how we can best use this technology now and in the future.

Sport Development- I have begun a program to investigate how USPA might be able to help skydiving professionals and the industry of skydiving. A request for input about this program was posted to the Internet newsgroup rec.skydiving, and this provided numerous responses. This request will also be put in a future issue of The Professional, so please look for it. As always, I look forward to comments and suggestions at any time about this topic as well as others.

Safety and Training:

Exhibition jumps - Well, we knew it would happen, with all of the skydivers crashing and burning at exhibition jumps due to bad judgement, and complaints from the FAA - more rules and regulation. The Safety and Training committee suggested changes to the Professional Exhibition rating and demo jumps, and they were approved by the Board. Among others: You will now need to have a "D" license to do any demo, a Pro rating will require 500 jumps and a completed proficiency card, and accuracy jumps for qualification will be more closely scrutinized. Fortunately none of the changes involved canopy type or wing-loading restrictions as long as you use the canopy you qualified with. Remember folks, demo jumps are where the general public sees us, and where we must not make mistakes!

Tandem - The FAA may soon be changing FAR 105 to eliminate the need for an exemption to do Tandem jumps. The Safety and Training committee is working in conjunction with the Tandem equipment manufacturers on changes to USPA's instructional programs and ratings to help make this expected transition as smooth and safe as it can, but there are still many unknowns, and the work will need to continue for a long time.

(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).

National Director Jim Hayhurst has developed a new competition discipline related to flying mainstream canopies safely and accurately. (By mainstream we mean canopies not built specifically for precision accuracy). It is called "Sport Accuracy" and should help bring canopy flying competition back to the average skydiver. He is in the process of trying to see it become an official USPA competition event. Jim will be at the World Freefall Convention in Quincy, demonstrating this competition with Jeff Steinkamp, who has organized the standup accuracy competition held there each year.

Group Member Program:

USPA's new "Enhanced Group Member Program" is moving steadily ahead, and most of the Group Member drop zones are renewing as Enhanced Group Members. Some of the features of the program which were not in place when the program began in February are now available, and the list of items to be used in the voluntary inspection program is almost complete and will soon be sent to drop zones for suggestions and comments.

Where I've been ...

As I stated in my letter to drop zone operators when I first acquired this position, it may be a while before you see me visiting your drop zone, because travel is expensive, time consuming, and most of all, interferes with my jumping and instructional currency! I would really like to meet you all, but it may take a while. In the mean time, if you attend some of the large skydiving events in the region, you will be likely to find there. (In other words, see you at Quincy!) Here are the drop zones I've visited recently:

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