0
fencebuster

Candidate for the USPA BOD

Recommended Posts

Skydiver friends and acquaintances: I am running in the upcoming USPA BOD election for a position as a National Director. Below is my official statement submitted to USPA. I am available to answer any questions or respond to any concerns. Simply PM me and you will get an answer. Thanks in advance for reading this!

I am a retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel and current lawyer with Valley Proteins, Inc., in Winchester, VA. I have been skydiving since 2007, although I completed 10 military static line jumps. Since I became a skydiver, I have led a large turbine skydiving club as President and member of the Board of Directors (Skydive Orange, VA) for over 2 years during a time when the club contracted to build its new hangar and developed the new landing area. After an injury in May 2011, I embarked with my wife, Melissa, on development of a dropzone with a different "vibe", which became Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures, a two Cessna 182 operation in New Market, VA. We have been operating for four years and we have a solid AFF student program, a loyal fun jumper following, and effective tandem marketing operation. My military background provides me with a strong sense of discipline and significant leadership experience while my experience as an attorney and director or owner of two separate dropzones has provided valuable experience in dealing with legal and practical challenges to the skydiving community and our membership. My first priority will be the needs of the membership of our organization. I am beholden to no one in the skydiving “industry” and will be available to any member with a problem, concern or issue requiring BOD attention and will forcefully advocate for issues that will benefit individual members and our rank and file skydiver membership. I look forward to earning your vote!
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good Luck! One thing though you are a DZO so I'd remove this line "I am beholden to no one in the skydiving “industry”" as you most defiantly have "skin" in the game and are beholden to everyone being a DZO.

Not saying that's a bad thing at all. Most people that are not self employed or retired have the time to dedicate to be a ND/RD.

With that no matter what you ask people to believe it wouldn't be true (as to being beholden as you said) as your financial future WILL always be part of your decision making process because it is part of you and you should embrace that not shy away from it. I want someone that makes decisions because good, safe decisions are GOOD for a long sustainable future for everyone. :) My opinion for what its worth.

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for your input, it is definitely helpful. Believe me though, I didn't open a DZ to make money. Rather, I have invested my entire life savings to do so. I am invested in safe operations and policies that are good for skydivers and the sport. I think the needs and desires of skydivers many times receive short shrift from the BOD. I'd like to think that I can be the voice of reason for the weekend fun jumper with the BOD. But I am certain I will learn much from this experience whether I am elected orr not. Thanks for you comment!
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, I think that my long experience as an attorney has trained me to think critically and to thoroughly analyze problems in order to develop workable solutions. My successes have been very public in that regard. I have the discipline of a career military officer and as a club President, of a large skydiving club, I have learned to work collegially with other BOD members to bring success to our skydiving enterprise. I know what it is like to build a DZ from a single Cessna and two tandem rigs to a going concern and I spend most of my time trying to help skydivers realize their goals. As for the direction of USPA, I believe that the organization should work for its members and want to hear what the rank and file want to see changed for their benefit and then work to see that vision realized.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
catfishhunter

One thing though you are a DZO so I'd remove this line "I am beholden to no one in the skydiving “industry”" as you most defiantly have "skin" in the game and are beholden to everyone being a DZO.



Actually, his statement is more accurate than many people might think. He put the word "industry" in quotes for a specific reason, because that is where the influence on the BOD is now, not from DZOs.

Charlie is an attorney, so he is not influenced by how much money he needs to make from his DZ. (Just not losing any money would be good!) So that means he can't have much in the way of financial conflicts-of-interest.

He would be a good USPA BOD member.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know anything about Charlie and most people that will vote for against him wont "know" him either. My comment was more of a "don't invite confusion/conflict" observation because if the conflict was "obvious" to me then I am sure it would be to others.

As for the "I'm not in it for the money" and "he is not influenced by how much money he needs to make " these statements do the opposite for most people. 1. because no sane person starts a business to lose money 2. very few and I mean very few humans truly care very little for money. So with this concept being foreign to most people (didn't say all) I would avoid using it is all. Instead I'd focus on the things your doing for the sport and the thing you would like to accomplish. People, at least people you want in your corner, would never begrudge you making money so the comment whether accurate or not just detracts not adds to your campaign, again in my opinion not that that's worth a hill of beans :)

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Believe me, I don't want to lose money. But if I can run a business that pays its own bills without me writing checks every month from my personal account, I am a happy camper. My goal was not to "make money" by opening my DZ. It was to create a skydiving place people would enjoy coming to where everyone was like family. I think I came pretty close to achieving that goal. I certainly didn't intend to not care about money, because I do. But I knew that DZs are always one accident away from possibly being put out of business and I was willing to put my personal capital on the line to achieve my vision.

My point really is that I don't owe anyone in the "industry" anything. I am my own man who started as a skydiver for the pure joy of the experience and started a DZ of my own to try to make a happy place for jumpers with like minds to have a safe and familiar place to jump where everyone is part of "the family."
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nolhtairt

I think what he meant was that he isn't going to be tied in to some good-ole-boy network where they protect each other, as we saw with Sherry Butcher...

In any case, he gets my vote



If you think anything has been any different with the current president vs any number of past presidents, you're sorely mistaken. The only difference is, she's a woman and for some, that'll always be a grating fact.

Charlie, I'd like to vote for you, but your position on DUI's/Tandem Instructors gives me a lot of pause. Convince me why your opinion is the better one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DSE:

I don't think the gender of the USPA president matters. Good judgment is what matters. I pledge to use my best business judgment if I am elected to the Board, which is what is required by the law for a Director of any organization.

As for the TI FAA Medical requirement, I do not accept the BOD analysis because the USPA has no business policing individual DZ hiring decisions. The FAA does not require an FAA medical for TIs. A "medical" is by definition an analysis of a persons medical fitness. That a person has been convicted of a DUI is not a measure of medical fitness. As a DZO, I am capable of doing a background check to identify past criminal history; indeed that is my responsibility to my customers and my business. I am also capable of assessing, through a proper background investigation, the prospective applicant's current sobriety and commitment to same. That is not in USPA's lane and the FAA medical does not assess that fact, and if you think otherwise, read the very first page of the text in the SIM where the USPA's position on individual DZ responsibility is set forth in bold lettering -- where they disclaim any responsibility for the operations of individual DZs. I am fully capable of evaluating instructors with the assistance of the IE's who jump at my DZ and USPA has explicitly disclaimed any responsibility for those decisions. I would simply ask the USPA to live up to the explicit disclaimer they make on page 1 of the SIM.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Charlie, I'd like to vote for you, but your position on DUI's/Tandem Instructors gives me a lot of pause. Convince me why your opinion is the better one.



At the risk of side tracking this thread, I'd like to say something about this. I don't believe I know a single person who both sometimes drinks, and also drives a car, who has never been guilty of DUI at least once. Most of them get away with it and learn their lesson without getting caught. It's been many years for me since I took that chance. There but for the Grace of God go I.

There needs to be room to accept that making a mistake like that should not disqualify someone from a TI rating forever.
Always remember the brave children who died defending your right to bear arms. Freedom is not free.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

There needs to be room to accept that making a mistake like that should not disqualify someone from a TI rating forever

there is a road to redemption. From what I remember this wasn't the TI's first.

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DSE

***I think what he meant was that he isn't going to be tied in to some good-ole-boy network where they protect each other, as we saw with Sherry Butcher...

In any case, he gets my vote



If you think anything has been any different with the current president vs any number of past presidents, you're sorely mistaken. The only difference is, she's a woman and for some, that'll always be a grating fact.

Charlie, I'd like to vote for you, but your position on DUI's/Tandem Instructors gives me a lot of pause. Convince me why your opinion is the better one.

Thanks Douglas I had forgotten who Fencbuster was (getting old and falling apart is bad but this forgetting is starting to wear on me :( )

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
catfishhunter

Quote

There needs to be room to accept that making a mistake like that should not disqualify someone from a TI rating forever

there is a road to redemption. From what I remember this wasn't the TI's first.



The "road to redemption" is almost impossible for the average staff member to afford.

Funny how USPA says it wants to be self-policing except when it comes to this issue. How come USPA doesn't just come up with its own medical form that it requires of TI's? Forget the FAA or DOT or whatever. Then they could require it of all the foreign TI's that hold a USPA rating.

Oh, cuz USPA is just doing what UPT wants them to do....

Certainly Charlie will get my vote. I may not agree with everything he says or does, but at least he is his own man.

top
Jump more, post less!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sigh this has been talked about over and over. A TI is a PIC with a PAYING passenger therefore they are and should be held to the same standards as any pilot and this isn't my opinion it is what is currently the regulation. Correct? If the FAA signs off and TI's going out and getting DUI's and allows them to continue to pilot paying passengers then then fine until then don't do the crime if you cant do the time.

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OK, Catfish: I'l accept what you say is true. If that is the standard we are trying to emulate in USPA, a pilot taking a paying passenger in an airplane is required to hold a commercial pilot certificate and . . . hold on for it . . . a SECOND class FAA medical. It appears to be lost on most of the people talking about this issue, but that the FAA changed the rules on medicals in response to a couple of drunk airline pilots several years ago -- pilots who were going to operate a passenger aircraft while drunk. Most of the responsible DZOs I know would never let that happen with a TI. A DUI is not a medical condition; I know plenty of people who managed to get a DUI who did not have an alcohol problem -- they just happened to have a beer too many and were unlucky enough to run into John Q. Law. I acknowledge that the BOD feels differently than I do . . . on many issues. That is why I am running. Someone needs to be the voice of the rank and file skydivers, not just of the manufacturers or the huge turbine DZs. That is why I am running.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Charlie, if there were a TI that had been convicted of a DUI, goes "straight" and has a few years of sobriety, and then goes out and harms a tandem student...USPA will likely be forced to pay out for that. Let's say it's a cheap payout at 100K$.

Who pays for that lawsuit and payout, if not the membership of USPA? It seems that in protecting the association, USPA rules protect the lay member, too. Do you disagree?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DSE: USPA pays nothing. They disclaim all liability in writing and rely on their inclusion in every DZ waiver. Page 1 of the SIM, seriously. in all bold letters. They have not been sued in the Static Line death from last year (they issue ratings for SL-I's, right? They were not sued in the accident in VA where a TI hooked turned a student in in 2009; he held a USPA issued rating Not sued. In the Cape Cod accident not sued-- a USPA rated TI at a GM DZ. I am a lawyer, I understand causation, assumptions of risk and waivers of liability. There is a reason all GM DZs must explicitly include USPA as a released party in their waivers. That is really a pretty unavailing argument, given the facts of past litigation involving skydiving accidents/deaths as it relates to USPA. It is the DZO, instructor and maybe but not always, the manufacturers who get sued.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If nothing else I'm going to vote for you because your able to communicate succinctly. I've suggested in the past that a technical writer be used to for the submission of motions and the writing of regulations. Perhaps this would improve the clarity of the intent of the writer or Board and the regulation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

As for the "I'm not in it for the money" and "he is not influenced by how much money he needs to make " these statements do the opposite for most people.



Yes, you are correct in pointing out this possibility. I encourage you to consider another possibility that there are those who embrace this principle with the firm understanding that a solid, constant, and unyielding commitment to delivering a quality product comes first, the money being the secondary result.

I know Charlie’s first priority as a DZO is to deliver outstanding services and products simply because for the last three years, my wife and I trained, licensed and continue to jump at Blue Ridge Skydiving. My wife and I are at Blue Ridge, jumping almost every weekend. Charlie and Melissa own and operate a DZ, built literally from the ground up; competing and succeeding against four larger and more established DZ's in Virginia. There is a loyal core of fun jumpers and it is very very very rare indeed to see a first time tandem jumper walk away dissatisfied. Blue Ridge Skydiving commands the highest number of replies (44) for any DZ in the Commonwealth of Virginia with a rating of 4.93 out of a possible 5.00 and this score is from customers engaged in AFF, IAD, or Tandem jumping.

Now, I'm new to the sport so I'll be the first to admit I don't know much about the current state of affairs, politics etc etc of USPA. I am however, a retired military officer (Maj, USAF) myself and I know full well that one may captain authority and one may captain respect. But the one who captains both is the leader. I'm stingy with my admiration and praise so when I state without equivocation that Charlie captain's both, I hope you would accept my word as it is based upon three years of interaction and observation. Charlie means what he says and says what he means and his statement of purpose and agenda in standing for election is no different. I hope this helps in your future voting decisions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for your support, Jimjumper. I have never been one to mince words or not say what I am thinking, which sometimes gets me in trouble. But I am pretty sure nothing is going to change at this point in my life.

Just to be clear . . . I lost the effort to change the BSR and I am over it. The experience convinced me that I have something to offer to the organization that would benefit the organization and that is why I am running, not because I lost the BSR issue. I never look back, it is a wasteful effort.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
fencebuster

DSE: USPA pays nothing. They disclaim all liability in writing and rely on their inclusion in every DZ waiver. Page 1 of the SIM, seriously. in all bold letters.



Sorry Charlie (I've always wanted to have a real reason to say that :P ) I am 99% confident that I know different.

I'd urge you to pick up the phone and call Ed Scott and ask how much money USPA pays out in lawsuits.

USPA generally settles, if what I've heard at various boardmeetings in various hallway conversations is correct.

I'd very much like to be wrong. Ed Scott would have to disclose if you asked him; would you take his word for it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sorry.
A five month thread that basically said " I want to change the rules to benefit my buddy"
Don't see any difference between this and the worst " good old boy/girl" stuff that happens now.
I'm open to your arguments......
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
DSE

Charlie, if there were a TI that had been convicted of a DUI, goes "straight" and has a few years of sobriety, and then goes out and harms a tandem student...USPA will likely be forced to pay out for that. Let's say it's a cheap payout at 100K$.

Who pays for that lawsuit and payout, if not the membership of USPA? It seems that in protecting the association, USPA rules protect the lay member, too. Do you disagree?



When was the last time USPA was successfully sued over the actions of a member? USPA would need to be negligent to be sued. Your position on DUI and TI's is over the top. People with DUI's on their record can become professional drivers. There is no room for being under the influence of alcohol for anyone in skydiving. We just don't do it. Even those with past DUIs. I just don't understand how you can think this way.
Always remember the brave children who died defending your right to bear arms. Freedom is not free.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's free!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
0