During the first week of February, the 22 elected directors of USPA, six staff members and others arrived in Scottsdale, Arizona, for the first of two meetings of the full USPA Board.
This third meeting of the 1999-2000 board term was especially productive.
The Competition, Executive and Safety & Training Committees all typically arrive at any board meeting with the fullest agendas, so they meet one day earlier to negotiate them. Comp had its hands full with several items, including the recent return of USPA President B.J. Worth and Director of Competition Larry Bagley from the annual meeting of the International Parachuting Commission in Canberra, Australia. They presented the committee with updates to the international competition rules. It's the task of the Comp Committee to adapt them as it sees fit to the USPA Skydiver's Competition Manual.
It's rare that the IPC makes a rule that the U.S. does not include in its own rules. An exception at this meeting involved international freefall style and accuracy landing. The IPC introduced a jump-off system of elimination for individual competitors after five rounds of team accuracy. U.S. competitors appear united in opposition, so the U.S. didn't adopt the new system.
Safety & Training paged through its two-page agenda promptly at 10:00 Thursday morning. Chair Madolyn Murdock, Gulf Regional Director, chose to first handle a stack of requests to waivers of the USPA Basic Safety Requirements, as well as other issues brought by individual members. For example, FreeFlight Skydiving School in Coleman, Florida, and Skydive Eilat in Israel each asked for waivers to use wind tunnel training in lieu of some of the in-air training for beginning students.
President B.J. Worth called the first plenary session to order on Friday morning with all members of the board present. A routine series of reports from Worth and Executive Director Chris Needels ensued -- the organization is in good health and programs are continuing to develop -- then the meeting went into closed session.
Two USPA members who had been subject to disciplinary actions as a result of safety violations with students wanted their terms of dismissal shortened. The board reinstated the membership of Frank Dornay of Fresno, California, but not his instructional ratings. Ted Mayfield, of Sheridan, Oregon, left empty handed.
Former National Director Billy Richards, during his last meeting as a USPA director, brought a motion that he felt would improve the future chances of candidates from the north. As a result of his motion, USPA's general membership had voted to advance the biennial election schedule by several months. The question appeared on the November 1998 ballot used to elect this board.
But in July 1999, the board voted on a motion from the chair of the Constitution & By-Laws Committee, Al Gramando, that nullified Richards' original motion. Gramando cited irregularities in the way Richards brought his original motion and the board's subsequent approval to place it on the ballot. Richards, now a regular member, is taking issue with the nullification.
Director of Safety & Training Glenn Bangs showed the S&T Committee the progress made on a proposed overhaul to USPA's student training and instructional rating program. The committee had given the go-ahead to an outline last July, and at this meeting, it reviewed a draft of a program that would replace Sections 4 through 8-1 of the Skydiver's Information Manual. Bangs introduced the proposed syllabus for training students from the first jump through the USPA A license. The syllabus details the ideas and progression schedule explained last July, posted on the USPA website and made available in hard copy from USPA Headquarters to all USPA members.
Since the program was first introduced in concept, headquarters has received 12 comments from USPA members. Most became part of the new 75-page draft, which now goes to the S&T Training Subcommittee, led by Don Yahrling. The latest draft will also be available on the USPA website at www.uspa.org and is open for comment. Copies are also available from USPA Headquarters.
The next six months will include broad distribution of the draft and testing at an expected half-dozen drop zones and may include scheduled working groups of interested members of the instructional community. Bangs also introduced rough drafts for two new ratings to help teach the program. Not far on the horizon may be the USPA Ground and Air Coach ratings, one to help with parts of the first-jump course and one to help with basic group air skills training, typically conducted for now as basic relative work training.
Some other highlights from this board meeting:
A change in the Basic Safety Requirements gives licensed jumpers with two ram-airs the option of wearing flotation devices when jumping around water. The SIM still recommends their use within a mile of water, and students, unlicensed jumpers and those using a round canopy are still required to wear a flotation device. The committee tabled a discussion to require official U.S. Coast Guard or other approval of the flotation devices themselves.
While the SIM once recommended that a jumper always pull the reserve without a cutaway in the event of any total malfunction, many jumpers choose to cut away first. Over the strong objections of National Director Ray Ferrell, the board approved the inclusion of the alternative procedure with a recommendation that a jumper consult with an instructor before deciding and have a firm plan before jumping.
The 2000 U.S. National Championships of Para-Ski will be held at Mont Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, March 17-20, in conjunction with the Canadian para-ski nationals. The board appointed Kirk Knight as USPA's meet director and the 2001 U.S. Para-Ski Team Leader.
Skydive Lake Wales in Florida will host the 2000 U.S. National Collegiate Parachuting Championships, with the dates to be announced.
Jumptown and the Massachusetts Sport Parachute Club in Orange, Massachusetts, will hold the 2000 U.S. National Championships of Freefall Style and Accuracy Landing June 5-10. The board appointed Roger Gardner meet director.
Sport accuracy, a modernized target accuracy event developed and promoted by USPA National Director James Hayhurst and Jeff Steinkamp, is now an official USPA-sanctioned national competition discipline. The new event will be included for the first time in the 2001 U.S. nationals.
The board named Gary Cook as the 2000 U.S. Canopy Formation Team Leader for the upcoming World Championships of Canopy Formation in Immola, Finland, July 1-7.
Finally, the board voted to coordinate the dates for the first meeting of the next term with the Parachute Industry Association's International Symposium at the end of January 2001 in San Diego. There, the newly-elected USPA Board will seat itself and elect the officers for the next term.
One more meeting remains in this term, scheduled back home in Alexandria July 14-16.
For more events see Page 1 and Page 3