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USPA and the canopy issue

 

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chuckakers  (D 10855)

Oct 3, 2010, 12:14 PM
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USPA and the canopy issue Can't Post

USPA Executive Director Ed Scott used his “Gearing Up” editorial in the October 2010 Parachutist magazine to discuss the high percentage of skydiving fatalities in the US in 2010 attributed to canopy issues of one sort or another. He noted that of the 16 fatalities through August, 12 were “canopy-related”.

Ed went on to say that canopy-related deaths as a percentage of all fatal skydiving accidents has increased (might I add skyrocketed) despite the organization’s ongoing campaign to improve that statistic, citing 40% of 2008 fatalities were from canopy problems, 45% in 2009, and a whopping 75% this year – so far.

Next, Ed detailed the things USPA has done to combat the problem. In 2000, canopy training was introduced as part of the Integrated Student Program. In 2005, the head shed distributed a video – called “Fly to Survive” – and an accompanying poster to group member DZ’s. By 2006, USPA updated the Skydiver’s Information Manual with more information on canopy flight. In 2008 a new provision was added to the group member pledge requiring DZ’s to “establish and disseminate landing procedures that include separation of high-speed landings and normal landings”. He also mentioned numerous e-newsletters and repeated “Parachutist” magazine content on the subject.

Lastly, Ed mentioned the organization’s latest effort, the issuance of not one, but two safety advisories on the subject. One went to individual members via e-mail and the other went to rating holders, S&TA’s, and DZ’s, reminding them of the addition of canopy safety management to the group member pledge issued in 2008.

The one thing made very clear by Ed’s editorial is that USPA’s efforts to curtail canopy fatalities haven’t worked. That of course begs the question “why”?

I submit that the problem persists is because no one at USPA, or anyone else that I know of, is investigating the root cause of these accidents. It’s easy to spew rhetoric about insuring adequate separation after group skydives, but has anyone asked if adequate separation was achieved by others in the group in these post-deployment collision accidents? USPA mentions making sure break-offs are high enough to leave time to get that separation. Has anyone at USPA actually inquired about the break-off altitudes on these skydives? Has anyone asked if there were other factors that led to inadequate separation? Was it poor tracking skills? Could one of the jumpers have experienced a vision problem from the loss of a contact lens or tearing up during tracking? Were more of these collisions after freefly jumps rather than belly jumps? We don’t know because no one is asking. A few pointed questions of witnesses and survivors could prove to be very revealing – and might tell us we are chasing the wrong demons.

What if we found a pattern of post-deployment collisions after short tracking times? What if we found a link between these collisions and the group size vs. experience level of the people involved? If so, we might discover that while poor separation resulted in the collision, it was not the core problem.

The advisory is – unfortunately – nothing but a repeat of the same things USPA has preached for a decade or more, and none of those have worked.

The advisory recommends taking a canopy course. Did they bother to ask how many of this year’s canopy-related accident victims had taken one? If not, how can they come to the conclusion that a canopy course by itself would have helped any of these people – or you?

The advisory says DZ's should separate high-speed landing areas from slow-speed landing areas. Has anyone asked how many of 2010's accidents actually had anything to do with landing area seperation?

The advisory suggests planning canopy descent and alternate plans for when things don’t go as planned. It cites that three of the four fatal canopy collisions in 2010 happened at pattern altitude, seeming to indicate one or both of the jumpers involved failed to fly a good pattern or simply failed to see each other. Has anyone inquired if a failure to do so was actually the cause of any of these accidents or if any of the victims had a habit of hot-dogging or poor canopy control in general? Has anyone asked how many of these accidents involved one jumper turning into the other from above vs. how many involved jumpers with level, converging flight paths? Probably not, but knowing that information could help us discover what’s really happening up there.

The advisory suggests downsizing in accordance with USPA recommendations. Has anyone compiled wing loading statistics vs. jumper experience and currency in any of 2010’s accidents? My guess is no.

You get the picture.

If we are going to get a handle on canopy accidents, we need to ask the right questions. I suggest USPA do more than publish a few facts from an accident report with a follow up message that sounds like a broken record. I believe USPA should perform an exhaustive investigation into every canopy-related accident – fatal and non-fatal – to trace the root cause of each one, rather than just the basic, incomplete, facts.


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Oct 3, 2010, 3:50 PM
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Re: [chuckakers] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree.

One part of the problem is that the current incident reporting system doesn't capture all the incidents. 

I suspect that a non-injury, non-fatality canopy collision would probably not be reported to USPA. Heck, even if there were injuries, it might not be reported. 


chuckakers  (D 10855)

Oct 3, 2010, 6:31 PM
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I agree.

One part of the problem is that the current incident reporting system doesn't capture all the incidents. 

I suspect that a non-injury, non-fatality canopy collision would probably not be reported to USPA. Heck, even if there were injuries, it might not be reported. 

Agreed. But if USPA really wants to change things as they claim, they will have to consider changing the way they do things.


Marisan  (E 123)

Oct 3, 2010, 8:12 PM
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Re: [chuckakers] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been out of the sport for a bloody long time (20+ years) but reading the incident reports there is one common factor. The Canopies.
I started in 1974 and went through the transition to the modern (for my time) squares. Turn to low, not a problem, flare out with the other toggle. Worked a charm and even gave you a softer landing. Canopy collision. They just bounced off of each other. Might break a leg but that was it. High speed spinning mals, unheard of.
These modern miniature canopies leave absolutely no margin for error and jumpers, like all other people, make errors. And, believe me, those Mad Skillz tend to run out at the most inconvenient time. Just my 2 cents worth and I'm prepared to be flamed by those that haven't hurt themselves yet.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Oct 3, 2010, 8:14 PM
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Re: [chuckakers] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

 
I had a similar reaction to that same peice, was considered writing a post similar to yours.

One of the areas I surprised to see was when he revealed that 75% of the 2010 fatalities were canopy related, and that this high number is prompting both the piece and the 'action' of the USPA.

For comparison, he states that the number was clsoer to 40% or 45% for the last two years. Are we to believe that 40% or 45% is acceptable, and not worthy of the increased attention and focus on the issue? Keeping in mind that 40% or 45% still represented the vast majority of the pie chart, with the remaining 60% of all fatalities split between 4 or 5 other catagories. That's not bad enough to warrant a 2/3 of a page in Parachutist?

I was also amused by the summary of the 'work' the USPA has done on the subject. A video that was not 'required reading' for anyone, and a poster reminding everyone to 'be safe out there'? That's the master plan? Don't they realize that without a clear and detailed definition of what it means to 'be safe', it does not suffice to simply tell people to 'be safe'. As mentioned many times on DZ.com, every jumpers who went in left the plane thinking they were being safe. The problem was that their definition of being safe, and the reality of being safe were two different things. It's like me instructing someone to 'make me a tasty sandwhich'. Should I really be surprised when they produce a sandwhich that they think is tasty, not one that I think is tasty?

Then he touts the USPAs 'unprecedented' step of releasing two safety advisories. The first amounts to nothing more than another poster for the wall suggesting everyone to 'be safe', and the other was directed to the group member DZs, who all signed a pledge to do one thing or the other, of course with understanding that like with most aspects of the group member program, there would be no actual enforcement of said pledge.

Again, does the USPA really think that jumpers are going to read the advisory and suddenly realize, "Oh, I'm suppsed to follow the DZs landing pattern, not just do whatever I want" or, "So I should leave plenty of room for seperation at pull time, when I was thinking I wanted to be close by the other jumpers in my group".

Quote:
The advisory recommends taking a canopy course. Did they bother to ask how many of this year’s canopy-related accident victims had taken one? If not, how can they come to the conclusion that a canopy course by itself would have helped any of these people – or you?

This is one area where I with agree and disagree with you. There are very few jumpers out there who could not benefit from a canopy control course. Some jumpers need different courses than others, but we all have room to learn. I picked up a tidbit or two listening in on Luigi giving a canopy control course last year. The point is that everyone would be a better, more informed pilot if they dedicated some time toward developing that skill. That very dedication can lead people to put a little more thought into their canopy flight, and take some pride in 'doing it right'.

So I disagree that a canopy control course isn't a good idea for everyone, but I do agree with you that the USPA is going about it all wrong.

One of the key purposes of the USPA is to train and educate skydivers. Case in point, the safety advisory being discussed here. It's their position as a training and educating body that allows them to even release such an advisory and expect people to read it and take it seriously. Know why the Muff Brothers didn't put out an advisory on canopy control? That organization is not looked at as the authority for skydiver education and training, but the USPA is.

So for the 10,000 time, the USPA reccomends taking a canopy control course. OK, fine by me, when and where is the next USPA canopy control scheduled? I'll go anywhere, in fact with the end of the season coming up here in Ohio, I could work it into a winter trip down south. Just let me know the dates and location. You could e-mail it me, or just print it in Parachutist, I'll see it there.

There it is people. That's the end of the line for the USPA. Expecting them to develop and implement a canopy control course is more than the USPA is willing to undertake. Five years ago I was in contact with the head of the safety and training ccomitte over at the USPA reagrding this very issue. They were well aware of it then, and are well aware of it now. Still they take no action beyond suggesting you take a canopy control course given by an unknown jumper, at an undisclosed location, containing information of unknown validity, given by an individual who is charging enough to cover his time, travel and efforts.

If the USPA would get off their duffs and put together a USPA endorsed canopy control course, and bestow local S&TAs the right to conduct the course themselves, or the authority to appoint a qualified local jumper, suddenly many of the above problems disappear. The couses would be available at every USPA group member DZ, with cirriculum developed and approved by the USPA, conducted by a USPA approved instructor, and with the whole enchilada being a 'local' affair, it would cost 1/3 what people currently pay for a canopy control course.

Take it one step further, and make the course a requirement for an A license, and in addition to making the courses more accessible to more people and regulating the quality of the courses, you take the stand that, "This is important. Important enought that every new jumper needs this information before being licensed becasue without this information, you're at risk for suffernig the most common fate among skydivers, losing your life with an open canopy above your head".

Quick story to prove my point - I got a call from an old business partner who told me his son (now 19) had done a tandem, and was now looking to learn to skydive, and he asked me to help his son through the process and keep an eye on him.

Fast forward, the kid sails through AFF and right as he earns his A license, a Skyvan shows up at a DZ not far from us for a week or two. I suggest that he head that way to jump the Skyvan because, hey, it's a Skyvan. About this time I realize that this will be his frist time at a new DZ, with a new plane, and nobody really watching him becasue now he has a license. With this in mind I suggest we meet for a coffee before we head down to jump the Skyvan, and talk about canopy control and new DZs.

The majority of the discussion was about spotting, jumpruns, windlines, patterns, accuracy, and stratagies for landing off. He had 25 jumps, so his experience allowed him to easily understand what I was saying, but afterwards he admitted than 90% of what I said was new information to him. He had a rough understanding of each of the topics, but a detailed understanding of the mechanics and theory, such that he could use them as a tool in his jumping, had not been taught to him thus far.

Sure, he knew enough to jump safely at his home DZ, out the familiar plane, in familiar surroundings, but the majority of that was just through repitition. When it came to planning a parachute descent at a new location with whatever conditions prevailed that day, he was largely unpreparred, and while he might have been fine, it would not have been due to thourough and prudent planning on his part, it would be due to luck and the general good fortune skydvers seem to enjoy.

This was an A licesned jumper, certified by the USPA to self jumpmaster in all aspects of making a skydive, and would have been treated as such by any DZ in the country. This is what the USPA is producing, and then they are surprised that people are dying under open canopies?


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Oct 4, 2010, 6:43 AM
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Re: [davelepka] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

A relatively simple way for USPA to increase jumpers' exposure to more canopy skill practice would be to move all the tasks from the "canopy proficiency card" to the requirements for various licenses.

Some of those tasks might go best on the A-lic requirements, others might fit best on the B-license requirements.

I made this suggestion to the USPA last year (staff Dir of S&T; chair of S&T committee, & my regional director). I have heard nothing more about it since then.


Para5-0  (D 19054)

Oct 4, 2010, 7:41 AM
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Re: [davelepka] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Okay,

Two points,
First I have noticed that those that take canopy classes (yes I recommend them to all) are not the ones I am worried about. Sounds strange but those are the ones that are actively seeking knowledge to become proficient canopy pilots and are usually the most conservative and safest jumpers. It is the ones that dont think they need a canopy course that worry me, because they are the ones that are more likely to get themselves or others in trouble.
Second, The first jump course is designed to apply to all USPA dropzones across the world. Sometimes instructors who have been teaching for a long time tend to get tunnel vision and adapt the course to their local dropzone. This does the student an injustice for just the reason youstated above. Not all first jump course student will only jump at your DZ.

and Lastly, the attempts by USPA, in the above posts are categorized as feable but I think we need to remember we are all onthe same team, and that this constructive critisism can help improve an area that is in desperate need of improving.


Douggarr  (D 2791)

Oct 4, 2010, 8:16 AM
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Re: [chuckakers] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Chuck, you bring up good points all. I have noticed that at the last four DZs I've jumped there has not been enough of an effort to encourage or enforce the landing traffic pattern directions. I mean, what good is a sign in the bathroom stalls -- "Left Hand Pattern!" -- if skydivers ignore it. I'd like to know if canopy collision frequencies correlate with tandem factory DZs, two-plus turbo aircraft turning all the time, etc. Also, what time of day are these collisions occurring? Late sunset jumps on crystal clear days in summer and early fall make it sometimes difficult to see other canopies when you're beginning to concentrate on final at around 500 feet (for us non-swoopers). The "head on a swivel" seems to be only in effect at higher altitudes for many skydivers. More research needs to be done about these accidents.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Oct 4, 2010, 8:23 AM
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Quote:
First I have noticed that those that take canopy classes (yes I recommend them to all) are not the ones I am worried about. Sounds strange but those are the ones that are actively seeking knowledge to become proficient canopy pilots and are usually the most conservative and safest jumpers. It is the ones that dont think they need a canopy course that worry me, because they are the ones that are more likely to get themselves or others in trouble.

OK, how many people do you think would be willing to jump with an abbreviated FJC? Not many, but there would be some, There is always that guy who thinks it's no big deal, and that he doesn't need all day to train for the jump. Why does he then end up spending the whole day training for the jump? Becasue the USPA said he has to, and due to that students, instructors and DZOs all believe that, and give the concept value.

How many jumpers would be happy to get a B license without doing live water trianing? I would bet a good portion of them figure that they know how to swim, and don't jump near water anyway. Of course, they all end up getting the training, again, because the USPA says they have to, and that makes it important.

All the jumpers who don't think they need to take a canopy control course all spent 8 hours in a FJC, and all end up doing live water training for their B. If the USPA required a canopy control course for an A license, people would take it seriously. It would be looked at as a thing of value, and it would make a mark in the mind of the students that canopy control is a real and serious issue that needs to be given due consideration for the duration of your skydiving carreer,

Quote:
Second, The first jump course is designed to apply to all USPA dropzones across the world. Sometimes instructors who have been teaching for a long time tend to get tunnel vision and adapt the course to their local dropzone

That's irrelevant to this issue. As previously discussed, the canopy control portion of the FJC is sufficient for making the first handful of jumps. Between the student canopies, wind limits, instructor oversight, and radio assist, the student doesn't need any more in the way of canopy control then is already presented. The student has more pressing issues to be concerned about like EPs and altitude awareness.

In the example I gave above, the 'chat' I had with the new jumper was about 2 hours in length. There's no way to work that into the FJC, and the truth is that it would take even longer at that point. The fact that the jumper had 20-some jumps at the time really helped with his understanding of some of the concepts covered. His practical experience with winds, landing patterns, and canopy controls made him an ideal student for the rest of what he really needed to know.

This isn't about the FJC. How many FJC students make it to jump #2? It's a huge waste of time to teach the bulk of a canopy control course to anyone unless they plan on getting a license and jumping without supervision. It's easier to teach a guy with 20 jumps under his belt, and he'll get more out the course based on those 20 jumps. They provide a frame of reference making the information that much easier to understand.

Quote:
the attempts by USPA, in the above posts are categorized as feable but I think we need to remember we are all onthe same team,

No we're not. Not anymore. Ten years ago we were on the same team. Five years ago we might have been on the same team, but not anymore. How can you justify what amounts to no efforts in the way of improving what has consistantly been the number one killer of skydivers for better than a decade.

In that time, they have wasted their time left and right with bullshit. Who remembers the BIC? Where is that now? How about the ISP? In retrospect all that did was make it harder and more expensive for someone to become a skydiver. New jumpers aren't any safer or better informed than they used to be, just poorer.

Meanwhile, the elephant in the room has been there all along. An occasional statistical anomoly made things look better in one year or another, and they hitched their wagon to that like it was their own doing. The following year there was 'no news' becasue the anomoly worked itself out, the fatalities were back on track.

It took the elephant walking up to the board room table and taking a huge dump on it for them to even notice. That huge dump, of couse, was when open canopy fatalities hit 75% of the overall fatalities, but even then their response was the equivilant of putting some newspaper on the giant pile of shit.

Nobody can argue that a canopy control course would be a good thing for all jumpers. Some argue that canopy type and WL limitations aren't helpful. but some argue that they would be, but in either case those types of limitations would 'do no harm'. With thses points in mind, and open canopy fatalitied being the #1 killer of skydivers, it would seem like a no-brainer to put one or both of those programs in place, however, as we all know, nothing has been done. Nothing.

I'm going to re-quote one of my favorite lines of all time. When I first read it some 10 or 12 years ago I liked it because it was 'clever' and seemed like a funny concept. The more time that passes, the more I realize that Al Frisby knew more about what he was saying than he thought when he said in reference to new jumpers, "We're advertising Disneyland. and delivering Death Valley".


Premier DSE  (D 29060)

Oct 4, 2010, 8:26 AM
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Re: [davelepka] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Expecting them to develop and implement a canopy control course is more than the USPA is willing to undertake. Five years ago I was in contact with the head of the safety and training ccomitte over at the USPA reagrding this very issue. They were well aware of it then, and are well aware of it now. Still they take no action beyond suggesting you take a canopy control course given by an unknown jumper, at an undisclosed location, containing information of unknown validity, given by an individual who is charging enough to cover his time, travel and efforts.

If the USPA would get off their duffs and put together a USPA endorsed canopy control course, and bestow local S&TAs the right to conduct the course themselves, or the authority to appoint a qualified local jumper, suddenly many of the above problems disappear. The couses would be available at every USPA group member DZ, with cirriculum developed and approved by the USPA, conducted by a USPA approved instructor, and with the whole enchilada being a 'local' affair, it would cost 1/3 what people currently pay for a canopy control course.

They don't have to. It's been developed. By very active, articulate, and passionate skydivers.
However, the USPA has made clear on mulitple occasions that they do not believe in being involved in advanced training. They want to make new skydivers, and make rules and training to keep those new skydivers safe.
Everything else is not much of an afterthought in the whole of the USPA's direction.
BOD members (as individuals) seem to agree that additional training options should be created, with some sort of advanced path.
I proposed something not terribly different than the Coach 1/Coach 2 system that Canada uses, and it was thought to be too complex.

The USPA has several options here.
~"Buy" an existing canopy control course and modify it for general distribution (somewhat like what has happened with the Skydive U content).

~Promote/produce a canopy control course tour that went from DZ to DZ based on regional sensibilities. Use the team from Flight 1 as instructors/coaches, and set a fee scale commensurate with their normal fees /X factor (more people attending, promotional costs paid by USPA, therefore canopy coach is paid less per head). I suspect that if there were enough dates/stops in the region, a successful fee scale could be negotiated.

~ Use the course already submitted to the USPA and give the authors a pat on the back. Require that all group members/DZ's host this event or co-locate this training event by "X" date in 2011.

~Revisit the "Advanced Coach Rating" discussion and use a blend of the options available above.
Advanced coach rating system could be applied to every discipline in skydiving, but that would also require some modifications to the way that the USPA views training.
The focus has only been on students, never on advanced/experienced skydivers. Students aren't colliding with others all that often, students aren't pounding in under hook turns.

The folks at USPA generally mean well, and most of the BOD (IMO) are really great people but many are out of touch with what's going on in the "real world." They're just too damn busy running their DZ's to take the time to fly around to boogies, funjump at bigger DZs, or see how others are managing things.

But...if they can't see the value in changing up the safety culture and opportunities for safety then they need to shut up about rising Workman's Comp and insurance costs.

The USPA BOD vote is coming up soon.
Have a hard look at the candidates that vote down working processes such as an advanced coach course or vote against taking disciplinary action when there is a fatality that involves negligent actions and surviving skydivers. Look at who is actively involved in skydiving as a skydiver vs being a DZO.

I truly believe the USPA board would implement a program if enough people scream for it and an easy option is placed before them. The option is there. Now folks need to scream.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Oct 4, 2010, 8:43 AM
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Quote:
the USPA has made clear on mulitple occasions that they do not believe in being involved in advanced training. They want to make new skydivers, and make rules and training to keep those new skydivers safe.

It's been clear for many years that this is not 'advanced' training. This is training that should be considered remedial, and required for every jumper looking to earn a license and self-jumpmaster.

Quote:
I truly believe the USPA board would implement a program if enough people scream for it and an easy option is placed before them

Scream? How about die? How many people have to die for something before the USPA takes notice?

Easy option? Easy, hard, or close to impossible, they should be (and should have been) doing someting.


Premier DSE  (D 29060)

Oct 4, 2010, 9:10 AM
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Re: [davelepka] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
the USPA has made clear on mulitple occasions that they do not believe in being involved in advanced training. They want to make new skydivers, and make rules and training to keep those new skydivers safe.

It's been clear for many years that this is not 'advanced' training. This is training that should be considered remedial, and required for every jumper looking to earn a license and self-jumpmaster.

Quote:
I truly believe the USPA board would implement a program if enough people scream for it and an easy option is placed before them

Scream? How about die? How many people have to die for something before the USPA takes notice?

Easy option? Easy, hard, or close to impossible, they should be (and should have been) doing someting.

We're entirely on the same page, Dave. Except that I do believe the BOD is going to see any training that doesn't involve pre-A licence instruction as being "advanced" training.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Oct 4, 2010, 9:45 AM
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Quote:
We're entirely on the same page, Dave. Except that I do believe the BOD is going to see any training that doesn't involve pre-A licence instruction as being "advanced" training.

Rachet up a few posts, and you'll see that I'm not talking about post-A license training, I'm talking about fnishing the job that the FJC started.

Again, the canopy control portion of the FJC is adequate for students who are borderline overwhelmed with other, more important, issues. While you are a student, or even on the coach jumps, you are largely supervised, renting student gear, and not really 'on your own',

Earning an A licese represents a significant shift. Maybe at your home DZ you are still watched over, being known as a 'new' jumper and remembered from two weeks ago as a student. When you jump a new DZ, however, all of that is lost. Manifest might know your experience based on checking you in and seeing your logbook, but beyond that none of the jumpers know you or that you only have 26 jumps.

You are truely on your own, and this by design of the USPAs licesne program. You properly earned your license, and the other jumpers at the new DZ are honoring their responsibilities as per the USPA, which are none with regards to you. The situation I outlined above is possible and probable given the structure of the USPAs license and trainging system.

I contend that this is not OK, and that the canopy control info left out of the FJC in the interest of brevity needs to be re-visited at some point before a jumper is given a license and 'cut loose'.

For example, are you sure that every jumper granted an A license has a complete understanding of the use of brakes or rear risers, its effect descent rate and air speed, and it's application for exstanding your glide with the wind and shortening your glide into the wind?

Let's face it, this is a fairly simple proposition, and one that can go a long toward avoiding off field landings (and the related dangers) and improving accuracy, two things that can be very valuable to new jumpers. Do you really think that every new A licesne jumper is 100% clear on that subject?

How about the concept of a windline, and that as the wind increases, your landing pattern needs to stay tighter to the windline due to the increased crosswind component on the base leg? Again, a simple situation, easy to understand, and valuable for helping to keep jumpers where they want to be when the winds pcik up. Despite this, I have little confidence that every new A licensed jumper has an understanding of this and how to apply it.

How about object turbulence, and how it works? Even if jumpers know this, if they stray too far off the windline in the pattern on a windy day. and can't make it back to their intended turn-in point for their final leg, they are forced to fly an alternate final, which may or may not be free of the turbulenxce they were tyring to avoid by selecting the final leg they chose in the first place.

Those are just a handful of things that a jumper should know and understand before being cut loose to self-jumpmaster. Too complicated and too involved for the FJC? Yes. In every way possible, yes. Too complicated and too involved for a jumper with 20 jumps attending a dedicated canopy control course? Not in the least.

As per my example from a few posts up, with no planning or a syllabus of any kind I managed to cover everything I could think of in two hours. With some work and some polish on the presentation, it could probably be cut back to 60 - 90 minutes. You don't even need to do any actual jumps, I did my 'course' at a Starbucks. A classroom with a dry erase board would suffice.

This doesn't have to be a big deal, it doesn't have to take a lot of time, and it doesn't have to be expensive. An hour or so, one evening at the DZ (or any location of the instructors choice) and maybe $20 a head for the instructors time is all it would take, but it does have to happen.

In addition to getting a full set of information to the students, it has another effect, that being the importance granted to the subject of canopy control by virtue of it getting it's own dedicated traning time, and that the training is required to earn a license. New jumpers will believe almost anything we tell them, and if we tell them this is an important subject, and required for advancement, this will make an impression on them. When we tell them it's important, but taking a canopy control course is optional if you can even find one, that also makes an impression on them, and it's not a good one.

CRW guys will tell you taking a CRW seminar is a great idea, and freeflyers will all reccomend one-on-one coaching, but neither of those are required and as such, not many jumpers follow that advice. To expect the subject of canopy control to be any different is just plain silly.


yoink

Oct 4, 2010, 9:52 AM
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Look at the majority of incident / recommendation threads and discussions here and they generally always end in the same way: People stating that 'we don't want no more rules in skydiving!'

As long as that is the prevailing attitude of the people in the sport, nothing will change.

Advisories, suggestions, posters, presentations, BSRs - they're all lip-service to a problem because there's no requirement for people or DZ's to follow them.

The problem isn't the USPA, it's the skydivers themselves. We've become so used to people dying (hey, it's a risky sport! Crazy) and we're so enamoured with the image of skydiving being a counter-culture 70's style club, that we're not willing to put regulations in place that can affect people's behaviour.

It's the opposite of Health and Safety in the workplace gone mad. We see problems that kill people then deliberately do nothing about it.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Oct 4, 2010, 10:45 AM
Post #15 of 285 (3911 views)
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Re: [yoink] Re:USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

 
I would disagree with that on many levels. In terms of equipment design and manufacture, safety advances have been plentiful and remain one of the key focuses of ongoing R&D.

In many aspects of training and DZ operations, promoting and maintaining safety is job one, and lots of good people send an awful lot of time and effort in those areas.

You'll notice, however, that the above areas are not overseen by the USPA, these are private enterprises who see the value in doing the right thing, and protecting their business as such.

The problem with the USPA is that the traning mentality in place is from the days when open canopies did not kill the majority of skydivers. When F-111 was king, the majoroty of jumpers never jumped anything smaller than 200 sq ft, and accordingly never had to deal with high closing speeds, high turn rates, and canopies that could dive more than 100 ft. at best.

If you could get your hands on a training manual or FJC syllabus from 1990, you'll see that the majority of the canopy control information is the same as it is today. For the FJC course this is adequate, and in 1990 is was enough to allow a jumper to be cut loose with no additional training. In 2010 (and even in 2000) this is not adequate for a jumper being cut loose with an A license. While the training hasn't changed significantly, the canopies themselves are a world apart. What is considered to be an 'appropriate' entry level canopy today would have been the hottest canopy on the market 20 years ago.

That's the problem. Training that it freefall intensive with very little in the way of canopy control. This is left over from the day when canopies didn'y warrant the additional training, and the only thing you could do in freefall was RW. Things are different now. Canopies and canopy control is more involved , the freefall has way mroe to offer than RW. We need to shift the time and effort away from center-point turns and floating/sinking, and put it towards learning winds/weather/aerodynamics as they pertain to canopy flight.


pilotdave  (D License)

Oct 4, 2010, 11:28 AM
Post #16 of 285 (3893 views)
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Re: [davelepka] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
For example, are you sure that every jumper granted an A license has a complete understanding of the use of brakes or rear risers, its effect descent rate and air speed, and it's application for exstanding your glide with the wind and shortening your glide into the wind? ...

I'm a little confused. You listed a bunch of canopy control topics that aren't included in the FJC and you're proposing additional training on those topics before the A-license, right?

Those topics are all part of the ISP canopy training! I didn't see anything on your list that doesn't get covered by the time the student passes Category H. Seems to me that the solution you're proposing already exists. Are dropzones not following the ISP??? [gasp!]

Dave


(This post was edited by pilotdave on Oct 4, 2010, 11:29 AM)


DocPop  (C License)

Oct 4, 2010, 12:22 PM
Post #17 of 285 (3850 views)
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Re: [davelepka] Re:USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Dave - I know we have had our disagreements in the past (mostly relating to what I, myself, was doing), but I have to say that I agree 100% with what you are saying here.

I felt that the AFF course was totally unsatisfactory when it came to even basic canopy control, let alone actually understanding how a canopy flies and what you can do with it.

I was one of the minority who went on to seek out (multiple) canopy courses and can attest to how useful they really are for the newbie.

We HAVE to get someone to mandate more canopy training. If the USPA won't act, then maybe we should "go over their heads" to the FAA. Or at least threaten to.

My personal opinion is that we should let people get their A-license and then mandate more canopy training before their B. I say this because I do think it is important to have some early point of achievement in today's instant gratification society.

Thanks for taking this and running with it.


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
Moderator
Oct 4, 2010, 12:41 PM
Post #18 of 285 (3844 views)
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Re: [DocPop] Re:USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

>I felt that the AFF course was totally unsatisfactory when it came to even
>basic canopy control, let alone actually understanding how a canopy flies
>and what you can do with it.

To me those are two different topics.

If we have to do a better job teaching basic canopy control in the FJC, then we should definitely work on that. But understanding canopy flight, and understanding everything you can do with a canopy, should come later when students have enough experience to understand what you're telling them.


labrys  (D 29848)

Oct 4, 2010, 1:06 PM
Post #19 of 285 (3823 views)
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Re: [pilotdave] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Those topics are all part of the ISP canopy training! I didn't see anything on your list that doesn't get covered by the time the student passes Category H. Seems to me that the solution you're proposing already exists. Are dropzones not following the ISP??? [gasp!]

As a coach, I try very hard to devote enough time to the canopy progression part of every level when I train someone but it's a LOT harder to get that stuff to sink in when you've got an exited, amped up student who's thinking more about the freefall portion of their skydive. They "know" they need to "pass" the freefall requirements. They "know" the coach may or may not be able to see enough of them under canopy to tell whether or not they're practicing the canopy progression as well.

If you change that dynamic to focus the student on canopy control alone, knowing someone on the ground is watching and evaluating, like a canopy course, it may sink in more.


chuckakers  (D 10855)

Oct 4, 2010, 3:26 PM
Post #20 of 285 (3757 views)
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Re: [davelepka] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:

Quote:
The advisory recommends taking a canopy course. Did they bother to ask how many of this year’s canopy-related accident victims had taken one? If not, how can they come to the conclusion that a canopy course by itself would have helped any of these people – or you?

This is one area where I with agree and disagree with you. There are very few jumpers out there who could not benefit from a canopy control course. Some jumpers need different courses than others, but we all have room to learn. I picked up a tidbit or two listening in on Luigi giving a canopy control course last year. The point is that everyone would be a better, more informed pilot if they dedicated some time toward developing that skill. That very dedication can lead people to put a little more thought into their canopy flight, and take some pride in 'doing it right'.

So I disagree that a canopy control course isn't a good idea for everyone, but I do agree with you that the USPA is going about it all wrong.

One of the key purposes of the USPA is to train and educate skydivers. Case in point, the safety advisory being discussed here. It's their position as a training and educating body that allows them to even release such an advisory and expect people to read it and take it seriously. Know why the Muff Brothers didn't put out an advisory on canopy control? That organization is not looked at as the authority for skydiver education and training, but the USPA is.

So for the 10,000 time, the USPA reccomends taking a canopy control course. OK, fine by me, when and where is the next USPA canopy control scheduled? I'll go anywhere, in fact with the end of the season coming up here in Ohio, I could work it into a winter trip down south. Just let me know the dates and location. You could e-mail it me, or just print it in Parachutist, I'll see it there.
In reply to:

I actually agree with you on that. My comment was meant from a purely staistical point of view. If we find that 95% of those involved in canopy-related accidents HAVEN'T attended any kind of canopy training it might encourage participation. But we don't know because no one asks.Unsure


chuckakers  (D 10855)

Oct 4, 2010, 3:37 PM
Post #21 of 285 (3752 views)
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In reply to:
Quote:
However, the USPA has made clear on mulitple occasions that they do not believe in being involved in advanced training. They want to make new skydivers, and make rules and training to keep those new skydivers safe.
Everything else is not much of an afterthought in the whole of the USPA's direction.

Do you not consider instructional rating training advanced training? That too, is one of USPA's primary functions. I'd call getting an AFF rating pretty advanced. At least it used to be.Shocked


Premier DSE  (D 29060)

Oct 4, 2010, 4:11 PM
Post #22 of 285 (3738 views)
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Re: [chuckakers] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

now you're twisting words, Chuck.
Or, are you advocating that a 200 jump skydiver should be taking the AFFI pre-course so that he learns canopy control?

USPA does not believe in advanced training for non-instructional skydivers might be a different way of saying what I said earlier.

USPA does not believe in creating instructional ratings intended for teaching advanced/experienced skydivers.

When someone has 200 jumps, what USPA-endorsed program is out there to learn Freefly, Canopy Piloting, Wingsuiting, Camera Flying, CRW?
Not one.
What if that same person doesn't want to become an instructor? Does that mean USPA doesn't care about them? It's people in that range that are killing themselves and each other. Maybe USPA needs to think more about the actuarial curve of incident + experience and provide a clear path to better informing, training, and monitoring. I believe some members of the BOD would like to do that?


davelepka  (D 21448)

Oct 4, 2010, 4:40 PM
Post #23 of 285 (3718 views)
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Re: [pilotdave] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Those topics are all part of the ISP canopy training! I didn't see anything on your list that doesn't get covered by the time the student passes Category H. Seems to me that the solution you're proposing already exists. Are dropzones not following the ISP???

Even DZs that attempt to follow the ISP to the letter come up short in the area of canopy control. As previously mentioned, trying to teach canopy control in bits and pieces during the student progression is not the ideal situation.

Students are aware that they are not graded on canopy conttrol, and the informaiton they are given isn't directly related to learning objectives on the upcoming jump. Due to this, the student is less likely to see the canopy control portion as a 'lesson', and the instructor is less likey to address it that way. It sounds more like 'tips' for them to file away with all of the other 'tips' they get like 'carry a pullup cord in your pocket' or 'don't pee into the wind'.

Students focus on their next big task, which is their next jump, and the freefall portion is all they are graded on, and by virtue of that, all that seems important.

Trying to teach the finer points of canopy control in a hap-hazzard, bits and peices method to a jumper with other things on their mind, and 10 whole jumps experience is far from ideal. The idea is to catch them with 20 jumps, after they have built up a little time under canopy and done more than half of their jumps without a radio. This is where they have begun to develop an understanding of mechanics of it all, and teaching the finer points is the natural extension of that.

Additionally, when you teach in a stand-alone class, it allows the instructor to use a methodical syllabus where one lesson leads into the next. The topics can be arranged so the thing you teach first helps with the understanding of the thing you teach second, and so on.

The other thing a dedicated class does is make it easier for the student to ask questions. Without a plane to catch, or a jump on their minds, they'll feel more free to put their hand up. Of course, all of the other students in the class then get the benefit of hearing the question and the answer, something that does not happen when you're trying to dirt dive a guy to make laod 3.

The big one, the one I keep coming back to, is that by making canopy control a 'thing' that gets it's own stand-alone class, required for getting an A license, it sends the message that it is important. Canopy control is not a 'tip', or an add-on to a level 9 student jump, it's a 'thing' that is important enough that when you get serious about jumping and want an A licesne, you have to take this class or no licesne for you.


DocPop  (C License)

Oct 4, 2010, 6:11 PM
Post #24 of 285 (3689 views)
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Re: [billvon] Re:USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:

If we have to do a better job teaching basic canopy control in the FJC, then we should definitely work on that. But understanding canopy flight, and understanding everything you can do with a canopy, should come later when students have enough experience to understand what you're telling them.

I agree. Which is why I said my opinion is that it should be a pre-B-license requirement.


chuckakers  (D 10855)

Oct 4, 2010, 6:29 PM
Post #25 of 285 (3685 views)
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Re: [DSE] USPA and the canopy issue [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
now you're twisting words, Chuck.
Or, are you advocating that a 200 jump skydiver should be taking the AFFI pre-course so that he learns canopy control?

USPA does not believe in advanced training for non-instructional skydivers might be a different way of saying what I said earlier.

USPA does not believe in creating instructional ratings intended for teaching advanced/experienced skydivers.

When someone has 200 jumps, what USPA-endorsed program is out there to learn Freefly, Canopy Piloting, Wingsuiting, Camera Flying, CRW?
Not one.
What if that same person doesn't want to become an instructor? Does that mean USPA doesn't care about them? It's people in that range that are killing themselves and each other. Maybe USPA needs to think more about the actuarial curve of incident + experience and provide a clear path to better informing, training, and monitoring. I believe some members of the BOD would like to do that?

I was just asking if you think instructional rating training is advanced training. I wasn't splitting hairs.

But on the issue, I personally think USPA would better serve its' membership by focusing on things like advanced training, including the instructional side as warranted, and a sh*tload less on other stuff, primarily the group membership program.

Of course I'm talkin' recommendations, not BSR's. The ones we have now are plenty.

One thing is for sure. We have a big problem with the canopy issue. And so far, from the Excaliber through the Comp Velo, USPA has sat on the sidelines from a leadership perspective.


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