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Wingsuit Instructor/Coach Rating Input Needed.

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Personally, I think that a good argument for a USPA mandated course would be if we could point to poor instruction that is resulting in hazardous situations, injury or death. Then, having a uniform program would make sense.



Dan Kulpa is an example of why a formalized, overseen program offers great benefit.
Dan was told he could not wingsuit yet. Dan's lack of preparedness/knowledge was apparent to people in the room with him prior to his fatal jump. He instructor-shopped. Same instructor was warned that Dan didn't appear to be ready to wingsuit. Not only poor instruction, but an instructor and student warned that the student wasn't ready to take on the wingsuit.

Dan died through a process that had standard instructor procedures been followed, would absolutely not have happened.

Dan's death wasn't due to student screwup (we're all responsible for ourselves, yet we cannot dismiss the onus on an "instructor" who is being paid to help the student 'know what he doesn't know).

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We need a WS instructor rating like motorcycles need seat belts, which would do nothing to make anything safer or prevent people from making bad decisions in the future.



Lou,
Great post, I agree. I am just adding this as an example given in one of the responses I received, so as not to plagarize I am paraphrasing; We need a drivers license to drive a car. If we want to ride a motorcycle we need to take another test road and written. Why? It is the same road rules as driving a car, same traffic laws, that person who has been driving a car for years has a good grasp on the whole how to operate on the roads safely concept.

I think mainly because it is different equipment and there are completely different safety concerns. For example pointing out that riding a motorcycle in the center of the lane is dangerous due to oily, sandy, greasy build up, the road becomes increasingly slippery especially when wet.

Only because you mentioned motorcycles by the way. I see your point and trust me I have received feedback that parrallels your sentiments. I am just throwing out the other side.

Rich Winstock

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Dan's death was tragic, no questioning that. However, having an "instructor rating" would not have prevented it then nor will it prevent any type of instructor in the future from making poor decisions and or questionable instruction in the field. Thinking that a USPA instructor program will ensure and or prevent incidents from happening and guarantee instructors teach the way you or I teach every single time is like standing in a stream and trying to step on the same piece of water twice.
"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

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"Yes, because REAL USPA instructors currently teach whuffos how to skydive. "

My point exactly.

For the most part, we have a poor collection of "instructors" in wingsuiting.



We don't teach wuffos to wingsuit,...... or do CRW or do VFS. Your point is not exact.

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When you put on the skydive instructor big boy pants, you accept a large load of responsibility.
Dan's instructor failed in that aspect.
Criminally in my book.



Dan failed Dan. He was told no and then drove across an entire state instructor shopping. An entire state!

If somebody of low experience calls Ralph for a deal on equiptment that they shouldn't have and they know it then they pile in it is not Ralphs fault.

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Dan wasn't buying gear.

There are valid reasons we have BSR with minimum jump requirements for certain gear and jumps.
Ever wonder if all those new gear details were important to cover during instruction?

They are. Just ask Dan.[:/]
Oh that's right, you can't. Because his instructor didn't do that.:|

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Because his instructor didn't do that.:|



You were in the room when his instructor didn't tell him to put his leg straps on?

No one ever told me, they did tell me once a decade not to forget. A decade ago. I can't remember what was breakfast yesturday. I'm doomed to forget a decade old reminder about some gear thing or other.

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My FFC instructor was adamant in re: lag straps.
Told me I could die if I didn't put them on properly inside the suit. Although there had been a couple of people survive it, I surely wouldn't be so lucky.
Pretty much etched into my brain now.

If you're forgetting something as critical as leg straps after 10 years maybe you should consider a refresher course.
I could recommend a qualified WSI if you so desire.

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Dan was a friend of mine. He screwed up. I wouldn't necessarily blame his instructor, after all it was his 2nd and "coach" jump.
His instructor taught me and a few other on my dz.
Sure his methods could be much better (it was 2008 so before mane USPA recommendations) and maybe they would be right now. Did I need him to make sure my rig is properly on? I don't think so.

Food for though - I know of 2 well known instructors that survived opening without their leg straps on.
Did they need a FJC refresher?
Every now and then people get complacent. I believe once a very experienced videographer forgot his rig - should we try to establish Videographer Coach Rating?

edited:
I am not against improving safety in this sport, but I don't agree with throwing Dan's fatality as an example for such movement. There would be plenty other arguments to make instead Dan's death.

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We have all repeatedly validated why we need a safety day as a refresher to keep us reminded.
Currency in skills as well as knowledge is important.

Also important is establishing that foundation of behavior and knowledge.

At this point, it appears it's pretty much out of our hands and the USPA will make a decision that may or may not impact some, all, or none of us.
Won't be the first nor the last time we see something like that.

Airport access issues?
Swooping injuries and fatalities?
Landing patterns???
Tandem passengers / harness issues and fatalities???

If we don't maintain an established common method of instruction to protect each other with improving safety...trust me...some governing body WILL.

It's somewhat saddening that so many disregard the safety of fellow jumpers. This isn't the only place I see this though....:|

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Dan's death was tragic, no questioning that. However, having an "instructor rating" would not have prevented it then nor will it prevent any type of instructor in the future from making poor decisions and or questionable instruction in the field. Thinking that a USPA instructor program will ensure and or prevent incidents from happening and guarantee instructors teach the way you or I teach every single time is like standing in a stream and trying to step on the same piece of water twice.



You're *possibly* right. But not likely. We can play shell games all day long with this, but statistics both in and out of skydiving demonstrate that cultural changes occur with standardization. A different culture would have saved Dan's life. The same can be suggested for other incidents.

Get your AFFI rating or C/E rating if you can. Going through the I/E or AFFI process will help you understand why most of the people opposed to a WSI program are people with no instructional background whatsoever. It takes real work, real effort. Sure...some less-than-stellar people make it through the programs sometimes. But...they do receive their instructional rating based on a non-biased, objective standard to which they had to teach and fly. What they do with it after that...is all dependent on the person. Just because there are some bad apples doesn't mean we should throw away the programs. AFF is a resounding success. Standardized tandem and static line instruction is a resounding success. Standardization of the tunnel-coaching programs is a resounding success. And on the whole, the culture of all those facets has great integrity. Most people who worked for their instructional rating genuinely care about the quality of their instruction and those they teach.

Say what you will; had standardized instructional procedures been followed, Dan Kulpa would not have died. Chuck Blue followed standardized instructional procedures. Dan surely didn't die under Chuck's care. Chuck is an instructor. A real instructor, operating under the instructor rating processes and mindset promoted by USPA, a national standards and lobby organization.
Chuck didn't fail Dan, Chuck acted like an instructor. Dan didn't fail Dan; the system, Dan's "instructor" failed Dan. Perhaps only a 'real instructor' understands what that means.
Existing instructors "get it." If the rest of us don't "get it" then at some point, the DZO's and FAA will help us "get it." We're just like swoopers in the early days.
Had the training culture been created for swooping "back in the day," we likely wouldn't be seeing the low-turn deaths at the rate we have now. Lives would likely have been saved. Clearly, saving lives and quality of life is very important to everyone here, especially those opposed to a WSI rating pointing to failures in canopy training as a reason to not focus on wingsuits.


re; tailstrikes
There aren't numbers being skewed or made 'hysterical.'
Tailstrikes have been on the increase since 2004, both reported and unreported. The incidents didn't materialize out of thin air. :S
They either happened or they didn't.
A wingsuit was involved. The jump numbers and suit size are either correct or not. The type of aircraft is what it was or isn't. And the costs involved in repairing those aircraft are either real or not. It just is what it is in ugly black and white. Jumping Caravans and Otters all day, we _know_ there are exit techniques that are lower risk than others. Tailstrikes may be reduced through standardized instructional methods. DZO's, S&TA's, FAA, NTSB are all interested in reducing risk. Why aren't you? IMO, your reasoning is as flawed as your opposition to the BSR. Even back in 2005, apparently you felt standardization was a good thing? Remove the personal issues and look at the core conversation. At one time, we agreed on this.

Not one individual has provided a reason to not have industry-sponsored standardized training. Those that support it have provided dozens of reasons in favor. Those opposed scream "it'll kill wingsuiting, it won't make any difference, bad decisions can still be made, this is about money, blah blah blah." At the end of the day, standardized practices, mandatory FFCs for newbies _will_ change the culture, it _will_ create a better awareness of safety, it _will_promote the sport/discipline at competitive and recreational levels. The successes at wingsuiting schools using standardized methods bear this out. Non-skydiving statistics bear this out as well.
You're correct; instruction based on _current_ culture will remain shoddy and haphazard. We need to change the culture. Do we really want to be standing here in 10 years saying "shit, if we'd only gotten a grip on this thing back then?"

Cultural changes occur with standardization. A lot of people feel that's a good thing.

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Minimum jump requirements don't mean much if they're not universal. If someone is dedicated enough and want to wingsuit with less then 200 jumps all they have to do is book a plane ticket to spain and go jump. So even if there would've been a USPA WSI rating in place at the time of Dan's accident, if he had been determined enough he would've found a way to wingsuit with less then 200 jumps.

I personally know people who went to Spain to wingsuit at 100 or so jumps, came back home and realized they basically need to do bunch of hop'n'pops before they're legally able to fly their wingsuits again.
Your rights end where my feelings begin.

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If we don't maintain an established common method of instruction to protect each other with improving safety...trust me...some governing body WILL.

It's somewhat saddening that so many disregard the safety of fellow jumpers. This isn't the only place I see this though....




There already is, its been in place for near a decade and it's still what is being used today because it has and does work (common method of instruction). I have always been adamant about safety however, you need to apply common sense to the equation. Implementing something under the guise that it improves safety when it has absolutely no chance of reducing or even mitigating what the perceived problem is from occurring isn't a step towards improving safety, it's a step towards adding more red tape and bureaucracy into the equation and thats what this is.

I agree with the post above, Using Dan's death in this instance as a means of justification is a very bad example. There is nothing that can be instituted that is going to guarantee that once an instructor has a rating that they will continue to pass on that knowledge to the same standard once they are on their own, we see that with tandem and AFF all the time. With that said, there is no way implementing this rating will remove the possibility in the future of bad things happening and the only repercussions are reactive in nature (pulling a rating) so at the end of the day it doesn't "save" anyone or prevent anything from happening, which fundamentally means it doesn't increase an individuals safety.
"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

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I agree with the post above, Using Dan's death in this instance as a means of justification is a very bad example. There is nothing that can be instituted that is going to guarantee that once an instructor has a rating that they will continue to pass on that knowledge to the same standard once they are on their own, we see that with tandem and AFF all the time. With that said, there is no way implementing this rating will remove the possibility in the future of bad things happening and the only repercussions are reactive in nature (pulling a rating) so at the end of the day it doesn't "save" anyone or prevent anything from happening, which fundamentally means it doesn't increase an individuals safety.



Fatality (not a good example)
Instructor-shopping (not a good example)
Tailstrike (not a good example)
Lack of Recovery knowledge (not a good example)
Pictures of tailstrikes, near tailstrikes (not a good example)
Videos of tailstrikes (not a good example)
Banning of wingsuits from DZ's around the world (not a good example)
According to you and a few others, every example provided (AFF, Dan's death, tailstrikes, Steve's death, other wingsuit incidents) are all "bad examples." What would constitute a "good example?" It's convenient to reject any example, but it's certainly not constructive.


You titled yourself a "birdman examiner." What is the difference between you and your own birdman standards examining someone for their skills, vs USPA having a standard and USPA standards examining an instructor candidate, other than you being incentivized to sell suits/financial agenda? With USPA, that financial agenda more or less goes away. The brandwars founded at the instructional level go away.

Help me to understand what makes a birdman examiner with no USPA background any better/different than a USPA-trained Examiner that already holds an Instructional rating, following USPA standards, has attended an IERC, who is required to maintain currency through the USPA process?

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By this logic there are no AFF fatalities. Is this the case?

I remember Dans accident as it was right around the time I started Wingsuiting. I think things have changed a LOT since then for the better. It might not be a great example of how the system is a failure anymore.
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Just a friendly suggestion to all. The dialogue has been very helpful all the way around. Like I have said before it is important to get all views on the topic because it is considered a monumental move or non move.

My suggestion is to all: lets keep specific incidents and causes out of the conversation. Especially when it comes to speculative blame. Everyone has an opinion but lets remember it involves people and their feelings and emotions. I just dont want to see this thread derailed and turned into a spear chucking game.

This is not directed at anyone specific, just please dont let this go down a dark road, I see it is on the verge of going a direction I did not intend it to go.

I respect experience and knowledge of all parties that goes without saying but make a point and give resons for or against, stay away from the blame game.

or tell me to go pound salt. I am just mentioning because this thread is very useful for me personally and I know other BOD members are following it as well, although from silent keyboards.

Rich

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You're *possibly* right. But not likely. We can play shell games all day long with this, but statistics both in and out of skydiving demonstrate that cultural changes occur with standardization. A different culture would have saved Dan's life. The same can be suggested for other incidents.




Give me 1 case where a FFC student has died. Dan was on his 2nd jump so that doesn't constitute a FFC. There hasn't been one. And as you are aware , Dan went well out of his way to deceive not only himself but others as to his qualifications.

In the decade plus or minus people have been jumping wingsuits there has only been one death where the causal reason can be attributed to the jumper wearing a wingsuit and that was Steve's death. All of the other incidents that have occurred the wingsuit may or may not have been a contributing factor. Incidentally, all injuries and or deaths have happened to experienced skydivers, a majority of them experienced wingsuiters in which case having an instructional rating program wouldn't have prevented in any way ,shape or form an incident and most people KNEW beforehand what not to do, yet they did it anyway (human error/complacency).

So insinuating a change in the culture(read implementation of an instructor rating) is needed when the actual number of FFC deaths is zero and the actual wingsuit causal deaths is one in a decades time is flawed.


I think most people, "get it" be it that they have an instructional rating or not when it comes to wanting safe instruction but claiming that this is the fix when its not FFC students that are the issue, its experienced WS pilots, is deceitful. The solution to the issues isn't an instructional rating program, its education and continued education of existing wingsuit pilots, DZSOs, S&Ts, skydivers and aircraft pilots.
"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

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We have all repeatedly validated why we need a safety day as a refresher to keep us reminded.
Currency in skills as well as knowledge is important.

Also important is establishing that foundation of behavior and knowledge.

At this point, it appears it's pretty much out of our hands and the USPA will make a decision that may or may not impact some, all, or none of us.
Won't be the first nor the last time we see something like that.

Airport access issues?
Swooping injuries and fatalities?
Landing patterns???
Tandem passengers / harness issues and fatalities???

If we don't maintain an established common method of instruction to protect each other with improving safety...trust me...some governing body WILL.

It's somewhat saddening that so many disregard the safety of fellow jumpers. This isn't the only place I see this though....:|



It is not necessary to have a USPA rating in order to remind a licensed skydiver to put their leg straps on.

I'm not against having a standardized checklist, in fact I am very much in favor. But requiring a USPA rating to remind someone to put on their leg straps is absurd.
...

The only sure way to survive a canopy collision is not to have one.

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are all "bad examples." What would constitute a "good example?"



The context in which they have been used by you and others so far are what make them bad examples to support your point, not the events themselves.

Please explain to me and everyone here, how this instructional rating, had it been in place then, would have prevented Steve's death? Steve was very aware of the ramifications of opening up too soon yet it happened. To what end could the implementation of an instructional rating physically prevent this from happening again by an experienced wingsuit pilot?


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You titled yourself a "birdman examiner." What is the difference between you and your own birdman standards examining someone for their skills, vs USPA having a standard and USPA standards examining an instructor candidate, other than you being incentivized to sell suits/financial agenda? With USPA, that financial agenda more or less goes away.




The standard was and is to train FFC students and to train Instructor candidates how to teach others to fly a wingsuit using the standardized program of Instruction that Chuck and I wrote so that others could receive a standardized block of instruction as the discipline was evolving. The financial gains were minimal to say the least, they barely covered either our time, travel or course expenses and often times we ended up in the red or breaking even 99 out of 100 times. The incentive was to spread the knowledge and encourage people to seek training instead of just jumping in a suit. That program of instruction and teaching methodology is now what you and the rest of the globe are propagating because it works.

The mindset has changed 180 degrees from when we began this, people now seek an experienced wingsuiter to learn from and the information is freely out there and the number of experienced people in the field has grown, it's not the black hole of information that it used to be. An experienced wingsuiter can utilize the SIM to train another skydiver that meets the BSR qualifications these days and continue to mentor that person, much like new jumpers learn to do RW/FF/camera/CRW. I don't know too many people who still charge for FFCs, most they ask for is slot. Last I checked, FF/RW coaching is paid for but I don't see anyone wanting to stand up an instructor rating for it. The one who stands to make a financial gain out of this is the USPA through rating dues so I don't see the financial agenda going away, if anything its a revenue generator.
"It's just skydiving..additional drama is not required"
Some people dream about flying, I live my dream
SKYMONKEY PUBLISHING

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As different as the gear is, as different as the jump is, as much of a danger a wingsuit is to the area of flight it takes, it is not absurd.

So we should shorten our Pro ratings training and certification programs. Why not? It's the same gear, same environment, not too many fatalities.
Tandems? That whole course is just a waste. 10 minutes should cover it.

Tacking a backwards step by not improving our sport is absurd.
As is dismissing the added risk, gear, attitude, planning, etc. of wingsuiting.

It's like telling someone college is a waste in your world John. They've already been to school, why are they wasting their time with you?

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