Forums: Archive: 2013-2015 USPA BOD Elections:
A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director



Oct 24, 2012, 12:54 PM
Post #1 of 6 (2114 views)
A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director Can't Post

Posted from an email with his permission in its entirety:

To the USPA Members of the Southwest Region:

Within the next few days you will be receiving the November issue of Parachutist magazine. The November issue of Parachutist is the biennial Election Issue and I would like to point out several items that will be of interest and importance to all of you.

First, with regard to the election of USPA Directors for the first time in 8 election cycles my name will not be on the ballot for USPA Southwest Regional Director. After almost 16 years as your Southwest Regional Director, I have decided not to seek reelection to that position. It has simply been long enough. There is no issue, no person(s) or anything else that has caused me to make this decision except time. It is time to allow someone else to become your representative.

Second, Jack Pyland, IV, has qualified to run on the ballot as the next USPA Southwest Regional director. Many of you know Jack personally as I do. I fully support Jack's candidacy and hope you will vote for him this election cycle. Jack has the qualifications and desires to represent the membership's and the organization's best interests and I wish him the best.

Third, there will be a 'beauty contest' vote also on the ballot. This will be a membership non-binding vote on whether or not to create a special instructional rating for Wingsuit instructors. The proposal is on the USPA website (even though it is a little hard to find). I hope you will vote 'No' on this issue. This vote will not institute the rating but will give a semblance of guidance to the next USPA Board of Directors with regard to developing this rating. My reasons for asking for a 'No' vote for this issue is as follows:

  • The issue of whether or not to create a Wingsuit instructor rating was not the idea of USPA Headquarters or the USPA Board of Directors. It was a request by a faction of the Wingsuit community to the board.

  • The issue has not been staffed by USPA Headquarters. Therefore, no cost/benefit analysis or resource requirements have been examined by the USPA Headquarters department (Safety & Training) that would be called upon to institute this rating. And, again, it was not requested by USPA Headquarters (Safety & Training), the staff who would be called upon to institute this rating.

  • There is no measurable evidence that this rating would have usefulness with regard to the safety of Wingsuit flight.

  • Most importantly, this represents an entirely new direction for the USPA instructional system to embark upon. Specifically, there currently are no 'advanced ratings' for the average skydiver. If this proposal is instituted, it represents the first additional requirement for formal instructional training beyond licensure. It is the proverbial 'camel's nose under the tent.' It opens the door for additional training requirements for licensed skydivers to participate in other skydiving disciplines such as freeflight, formation skydiving, canopy formations, canopy piloting, etc. While we would all argue that additional experience and preferably training is desirable for these activities, you need to picture a world where you would be required to receive that training from a USPA-rated instructor (in that specific discipline) before being allowed to participate. This expansion of bureaucracy and rules (beyond BSRs) represents an unnecessary and complicated intrusion into the choices that are currently available to skydivers.

  • This issue and even placing this non-binding poll on the ballot was very contentious at the Safety & Training Committee level and at the full Board of Directors level. The issue was extensively debated and original motion modified several times and the final motion that allowed this non-binding membership vote passed the full board by a plurality, not a majority. Several board members abstained on the final vote and if they had voted, there may have not been sufficient votes to carry even this motion.

  • Again, I ask you to vote 'No' on this issue if you want the freedom of choice of skydiving disciplines that you currently enjoy to continue, if you feel this proposed instructional rating is unwarranted and unnecessary or if you feel that this issue should be more adequately evaluated by the proper and time-tested methods of developing USPA instructional programs.

    Thank you.

    Lee Schlichtemeier
    USPA Southwest Regional Director

    Para5-0  (D 19054)

    Oct 26, 2012, 8:39 AM
    Post #2 of 6 (1985 views)
    Re: [Ron] A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director [In reply to] Can't Post


    It is my understanding that there was a point and counter point published with the opinion poll. I was asked not to make this a who can gather more votes via social media competition. Below is the point and counter point as printed on the USPA.Org web site.

    The USPA Board of Directors is considering the adoption of a new wingsuit instructor rating program. After much discussion, the board decided to seek the opinions of the membership at large by adding a non-binding poll question to the board election ballot that will be disseminated in early November. The new rating system documentation outlines the details of the instructional rating hierarchy. If the proposal is eventually adopted by the board, the Basic Safety Requirements would require any USPA
    member making a first wingsuit flight to be trained by a USPA Wingsuit Instructor. Currently, the BSRs require wingsuit jumpers to have at least 200 skydives and a USPA license, but there is no training requirement. The results of the poll will be provided to the board at its March 2013 meeting in Daytona Beach, Florida. Following is a point/counterpoint provided by two board members who have differing positions on the
    issue. Rich Winstock is a National Director and serves as the chairman of the Safety & Training Committee’s subcommittee reviewing the wingsuit instructor rating issue. Scott Smith is the Western Regional Director and serves as the chairman of the Competition Committee. These are their opinions.

    In Support
    Skydiving has been evolving at a record pace. Recently, Felix Baumgartner just brought our sport amazing positive coverage by pushing human limits. The skydiving community will continue to push the envelope in all disciplines because that is who we are and why we have come so far. Unfortunately, progress has not been without sacrifice, evident in the statistics and incident reports over the last 10 years. It is our obligation to recognize any unsafe trends, to ensure that new jumpers are given a path that is not only safe but has been time tested.
    Gone should be the days of a wingsuiter “teaching his buddy.” Off landings, tandem flybys, general aviation issues and tail strikes are all increasing results of poor, non-standard instruction. Standardized wingsuit training is a forward-looking endeavor. Standards breed consistency, reduce risk and force those teaching wingsuiting to perform at already set standards. Standards provide a means of knowing all instructors are using the same information and not missing key elements during instructor sessions. Standardization will also ensure students are learning the same set of techniques and objectives. Three things DZOs and USPA should be concerned with:
    Tail strikes
    General aviation impact
    Off landings

    Proper training addresses each of these issues. There is some resistance to providing instruction for advanced skydivers, yet we already do this via tandem, AFF and all other instructor programs. Requiring first-flight courses taught by rated skydivers may be considered by some as “advanced” instruction, yet most anyone who has had a first-flight course realizes that this is more similar to AFF than it is to “advanced skydiving.” I consider a skydiver with 200 jumps putting on a wingsuit for the first time a student and he/she should be treated accordingly.
    Wingsuiting has recently found itself in an insurance debate as well: Should aircraft underwriters
    continue to insure a discipline with a high potential to damage aircraft and threaten lives? Standardized instruction will significantly mitigate the risk for tail strikes due to training methods that discourage poor exit methods and promote a positive safety culture in wingsuiting. Aircraft underwriters have made it clear that they support positive forward movement and standardized training.
    The freedom of action for a wingsuiter far exceeds that of a "straight-down faller" and means that wingsuiters can wind up in unexpected places, at unexpected times, up to four minutes after the last jumper has exited. This can create problems for busy airports and busy DZs. Standardized instruction and proper flight-planning practices provide solid mechanisms to diminishing these issues. We don’t see first-jump students dying under big canopies, but this does not indicate a need for less canopy training, Everyone agrees that the current push to standardize canopy training and the standard proficiency card is a benefit to all skydivers.
    Wingsuiting is no different; breeding a safe and aware culture is important to the growth of the
    discipline. A standardized first-flight course taught by a properly rated instructor will provide a
    foundation for future jumps and decisions.

    Rich Winstock
    USPA National Director

    In Opposition
    This election you are being asked whether your dues money should be used for USPA’s bureaucracy to adopt, administer and regulate a wingsuit instructor program. There wasn’t enough support for the program to pass at the last USPA Board meeting, though the proposal’s supporters were able to get this non-binding poll on the ballot trying to get a mandate.
    It seems they hope you read the materials and see what a good training program it is and vote yes. However the quality of this training program isn’t questioned. I think the board is unanimous in agreeing this is a great program. Personally I refer people to it all of the time. But the question you are being asked is not about the quality of the training program.
    USPA has never in its history regulated or administered an advanced training program. But now you are being asked if USPA should get in that business by taking over training for a discipline it knows little about. On the USPA staff, there are no active wingsuit jumpers, and the only two on the board oppose this proposal. Note that this program includes the following statement (para. A.3.b) which would require a change to the USPA Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs):
    All general, non-method-specific student training may be conducted by any USPA Instructor,
    but method-specific training and jumps (AFF, IAD, static line, wingsuit and tandem) require the instructor to hold that method-specific rating.
    Just like you were asked in the standardized tests you took in school, can you tell what doesn’t belong in this group?
    This isn’t an argument about more regulation vs. less. The board implemented a BSR requiring 200 jumps before flying a wingsuit, and since then there hasn’t been a beginner wingsuit fatality. Smart regulations work.
    A big selling point for USPA taking over wingsuit instruction is the occurrence of tail strikes by
    advanced wingsuit pilots jumping large wings. Some call this the new hook turn. A better way to
    address this real concern would be to make a BSR prohibiting inflation of a wingsuit in proximity to the airplane.
    This approach targets all wingsuit jumpers, especially those causing the problem. It makes everyone on the plane safer and satisfies concerns of insurers. (Contrary to rumor, the FAA hasn’t even mentioned wingsuiting to USPA—at all.) The rule would avoid over-regulation, launching the kind of educational campaign needed for drop zones to better coordinate wingsuit jumping. Instead, the proposal you’re being asked about strictly focuses on how USPA should regulate wingsuit first-jump courses, only ONE jump, where smaller beginner suits are used and no tail strike incidents have occurred. In the three decades that USPA has been training students on square parachutes, students have been taught in the first-jump course (FJC) not to turn low. But that instruction in the FJC hasn’t stopped skydivers with hundreds or thousands of jumps from hooking in to their deaths.USPA regulating wingsuit instruction is not the answer. Focusing on the real problem is.
    Scott Smith
    USPA Western Regional Director

    stratostar  (Student)

    Oct 26, 2012, 10:20 AM
    Post #3 of 6 (1969 views)
    Re: [Para5-0] A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director [In reply to] Can't Post

    Both sides make good points. I'm still not sold on the rating part at all. I'm sold on the standards being set and those teaching WS following that guidance.

    I'm not in favor of anymore reports from the local neighborhood citizens talking about watching something fall and hearing a screaming end over the lack of a simple and fundamental gear check, that ALL instructors should be preforming with any training or fun jump. We all should be checking each other regardless of ratings.

    Clearly we don't need people going around and holding them self out as a "wing suit instructor" when they just made that up and if they have not proven to someone they can teach safely others to skydive in any method.

    I don't think we need a new rating,I hold every instructional rating, I'm pretty sure I could follow the program and teach most of it..... exiting is exiting, different methods and ac's require different techniques. I've trained a lot of new camera flyers how to exit rear float on most models of Beech 18's & twin bo's, King airs too.... understanding how not to hit the tail is nothing new.

    The rest of it, long flights in busy airspace etc. is an issue that is best proactively addressed now, but yet I think new BSR's are more in order then a new rating. I don't see why Instructional rated people & S&TA's couldn't cover the info in the sims, could done in a class format and with a test.

    If there is really a need for stamp of approved instructor, it should be with the mfg's, like tdm. I'm thinking.


    Oct 26, 2012, 11:37 AM
    Post #4 of 6 (1954 views)
    Re: [Para5-0] A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director [In reply to] Can't Post

    I posted Dr Lee's email because it was not posted and several, including members that are running didn't know that Doc Lee was not running.

    There is enough debate on the abomination (my opinion) of the WS instructor/examiner program on many other threads.

    Para5-0  (D 19054)

    Oct 26, 2012, 12:43 PM
    Post #5 of 6 (1943 views)
    Re: [Ron] A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director [In reply to] Can't Post

    There is enough debate on the abomination (my opinion) of the WS instructor/examiner program on many other threads.


    (This post was edited by Para5-0 on Oct 26, 2012, 12:44 PM)

    SStewart  (D 10405)

    Nov 4, 2012, 11:08 PM
    Post #6 of 6 (1810 views)
    Re: [Ron] A personal message from Lee Schlichtemeier USPA Southwest Regional Director [In reply to] Can't Post

    I think Lee summed things up quite nicely. I am sorry to see him go because we need cooler heads on the board.

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