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Luke Aikins planning new stunt.

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4 hours ago, billvon said:

The fact that one decided to do its own thing even with the brake deployed and the autopilot engaged is a pretty strong argument that the risk of the aircraft going elsewhere was high.

Well... it's not like it pulled out of the dive and flew off towards the horizon.

It just went into a spin, which is pretty much straight down in the air mass-- Just that with a slower descent rate than skydiver-freefall speed, it would drift a longer time with the wind. 

So then it is just a matter of how big their safe area was, whether the "going elsewhere" was still well within a safe area or not.  I guess we don't really know anything about that?

 

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48 minutes ago, pchapman said:

Well... it's not like it pulled out of the dive and flew off towards the horizon.

It just went into a spin, which is pretty much straight down in the air mass-- Just that with a slower descent rate than skydiver-freefall speed, it would drift a longer time with the wind. 

So then it is just a matter of how big their safe area was, whether the "going elsewhere" was still well within a safe area or not.  I guess we don't really know anything about that?

 

Another thing we don't know from factual reporting is who the owner is of the land on which the aircraft crashed. Skydive Arizona? Probably not. More likely BLM or similar. If they pulled the stunt over Public Lands without permission there would have been no "safe area" as any member of the public could have been below recreating. 

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23 hours ago, pchapman said:

It just went into a spin, which is pretty much straight down in the air mass-- Just that with a slower descent rate than skydiver-freefall speed, it would drift a longer time with the wind. 

Right.  But given that it wasn't supposed to go into a spin - what other departure from straight-down flight is possible when the aircraft is taken this far out of its design envelope?  

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What is the process for the FAA to conduct their investigation and render a decision on any penalty? Is there a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge after the investigation where parties can submit evidence and testimony, or is it some other process?

 

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57 minutes ago, Pat007 said:

What is the process for the FAA to conduct their investigation and render a decision on any penalty? Is there a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge after the investigation where parties can submit evidence and testimony, or is it some other process?

 

Not sure what role the parties will have in proving innocence here. I mean you have a request letter and a denial letter . And a totaled airplane . What exactly do you think they would convince a judge of ?

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8 hours ago, Pat007 said:

What is the process for the FAA to conduct their investigation and render a decision on any penalty? Is there a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge after the investigation where parties can submit evidence and testimony, or is it some other process?

 

One thing I love about this place is when people ask a question that makes me go:

"Hmmm... That's a good question. I wonder what the answer is."


FAA site:

https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/agc/practice_areas/enforcement/enforcement_actions

Not surprisingly, there's a process similar to a court proceeding.

I know Bill Dause & his lawyers are pretty good at this one.
But I never knew the exact process.

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On 5/7/2022 at 5:14 PM, billvon said:

Right.  But given that it wasn't supposed to go into a spin - what other departure from straight-down flight is possible when the aircraft is taken this far out of its design envelope?  

According to my network of spies, busybodies and eavesdroppers Luke has gone full Mea Culpa on social media claiming that it's all on him and he didn't tell anyone about the denial. Sounds about right, right?. Now everyone else, Red Bull, Skydive Arizona, Andy, possibly USPA etc. just need to post that they were regrettably too disorganized mentally to ask about the request for permission from the FAA that everyone was most certainly aware was being made. You, know, Pilot Certificates and reputations and such being at risk. That, or Luke needs to disclose that when they asked he lied. To quote Paul Harvey, it is now time for "the rest of the story".

 

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22 hours ago, williamsheikspare said:

Its skydiving actually, And its an amazing stunt. One having spirit to do such dangerous stunts must go for skydiving.

That's obvious and simplistic. We who do this are all, generally, open to risk. But that's not what is the problem here. The problem is that an official of the United States Parachute Association whose family operates a large DZ asked the Federal Aviation Administration for a waiver from the Federal Aviation Regulations to perform the stunt and was denied in writing. He then ignored that denial and went ahead with the attempt over United States soil. That is bad for skydiving and skydivers in America by making us look like scofflaws at the highest levels of our organization. That's the problem.

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15 hours ago, JoeWeber said:

That's obvious and simplistic. We who do this are all, generally, open to risk. But that's not what is the problem here. The problem is that an official of the United States Parachute Association whose family operates a large DZ asked the Federal Aviation Administration for a waiver from the Federal Aviation Regulations to perform the stunt and was denied in writing. He then ignored that denial and went ahead with the attempt over United States soil. That is bad for skydiving and skydivers in America by making us look like scofflaws at the highest levels of our organization. That's the problem.

How is it that everyone does not see this?  The fact that Luke has not resigned already means that he’s putting it on the organization to take the action against him. He should do the right thing and just resign. NOW!!!

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Well the FAA just revoked Luke and Andy's pilot licenses. It's ironic that as a member of the USPA Board of Directors Luke sits on the Executive Committee that handles business like waiver requests and disciplinary matters between Board meetings. He also sits on the Safety & Training Committee. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/faa-suspends-licenses-two-pilots-involved-failed-red-bull-stunt-rcna28506

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10 hours ago, SkydiveJack said:

Well the FAA just revoked Luke and Andy's pilot licenses. It's ironic that as a member of the USPA Board of Directors Luke sits on the Executive Committee that handles business like waiver requests and disciplinary matters between Board meetings. He also sits on the Safety & Training Committee. 

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/faa-suspends-licenses-two-pilots-involved-failed-red-bull-stunt-rcna28506

No big surprise. I was partners with the Farrington clan in two turbine aircraft. I was beyond thrilled to walk away from the partnership and the money just to get away.

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On 5/11/2022 at 12:47 PM, buzzfink said:

How is it that everyone does not see this?  The fact that Luke has not resigned already means that he’s putting it on the organization to take the action against him. He should do the right thing and just resign. NOW!!!

Worse, how is it that USPA does not see this? Egregious, unforgivable behavior like this goes on and USPA President Chuck Akers is over on Bonfire helping folks find study partners on Facebook while Luke absurdly contends that no other participants had a clue about the FAA denial. Andy didn't ask? National Director Larry Hill didn't ask? Red Bull didn't ask? Really? What a joke we are.

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4 hours ago, JoeWeber said:

Worse, how is it that USPA does not see this? Egregious, unforgivable behavior like this goes on and USPA President Chuck Akers is over on Bonfire helping folks find study partners on Facebook while Luke absurdly contends that no other participants had a clue about the FAA denial. Andy didn't ask? National Director Larry Hill didn't ask? Red Bull didn't ask? Really? What a joke we are.

I can see merit for Andy to sue Luke for damages. 

If Luke lied to Andy and said they were 'good to go' with the FAA, then that would be a big problem.
Of course, Andy should have asked to see the letter to be sure.

That is, of course, assuming that Luke is being truthful.

And I don't see this as a 'joke'. Jokes are funny.

This is simply selfishness manifesting itself in a big mess.

do love the fact that the media doesn't understand the difference between 'suspension' and 'revocation.'

Glad to hear the FAA went full bore and revoked the licenses.
Not for the stunt. I don't think it was all that dangerous.
But for the blatant disregard for the rules.

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On 5/11/2022 at 12:47 PM, buzzfink said:

How is it that everyone does not see this?  The fact that Luke has not resigned already means that he’s putting it on the organization to take the action against him. He should do the right thing and just resign. NOW!!!

You are insinuating that the “organization” would take action in its own board members. I think you fail to get how this works and I think you fail to see the reason these people join the good ole boys club in the first place . I can promise you it’s not for YOU. 

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All Airman Certifications revoked. Including Rigger ticket.

Both men will have to relinquish most other F.A.A. certifications they have, including Mr. Aikins’s license to fly drones and Mr. Farrington’s license for parachute rigging. They can appeal the agency’s decision until next Friday.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/12/us/faa-pilots-red-bull-plane-swap.html?searchResultPosition=1&fbclid=IwAR3tJTG84rqrBqckYN79WbRIUZnjg0IbvHqlla1BB_T3HlCiMm-er31zAyg

 

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1 hour ago, gowlerk said:

Both men will have to relinquish most other F.A.A. certifications they have,

 

All the stuff the FAA has jurisdiction over!
Plus one of the articles stated, just to rub it in:

Quote

Aikins, who was also fined $4,932, [...] It is unclear whether Farrington was fined.

Pocket change for Red Bull, if they're still on board with the "gee I forgot to tell the team about the FAA denial" thing.

Cool stunt though.

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I sent this to every member of the USPA Board on May 5, including Luke. (Luke was the only Board member to respond. The USPA Executive Director did respond.)  The issue here is one of credibility for USPA, the Board and most importantly, the membership.  The ability of the skydiving community to operate and conduct itself with little FAA involvement is key. If Luke does not resign, or the Board does not revoke or otherwise legally suspend  his USPA membership, ratings and licenses, the FAA is going to assume we need more oversight. And, USPA will find it very difficult to impose enforcement action against any member without this issue rightly being used to stop that action. 

 

"May 5, 2022

 

To: Board of Directors, US Parachute Association

5401 Southpoint Centre Blvd.

Fredricksburg, VA 22407

 

From: Ron Lee, Skydiving Innovations

USPA Member # 34394

S&TA, PRO

D-16357

 

Dear Board of Directors,

I am an active skydiver, 40-year member of USPA and CEO of Skydiving Innovations, (www.skydivinginnovations.com), a San Diego-based professional aviation entertainment and event company founded in 1986. I am writing to you regarding the recent Red Bull/Hulu “Plane Swap” stunt that took place on April 24, 2022.

 I have no doubt I am not the first person to communicate with USPA and the Board of Directors regarding this event. While the event itself may not have been completely successful, it was unquestionably compelling, and no doubt was the result of endless engineering, development, and hard work. It was also, thanks to the decision by Board Member Luke Aikins to execute the stunt after receiving the FAA’s exemption denial, an undeniable middle finger to the FAA and USPA membership.  (See further.)

 We all know that skydiving’s ability to exist, let alone thrive and conduct itself with little government oversight is thanks to the fact that the FAA can trust USPA and its members to operate according to the FARs and USPA BSRs: that we will abide by the regulations and police ourselves accordingly. If we do not like certain rules or regulations or feel they are unnecessary or onerous, we can lobby for change. What we do not do is simply ignore them for the sake of anything other than immediate safety – not a big streaming deal with a content provider or to further our relationship with our longtime product sponsor. (This is where I insist that no-one try to assert the nonsensical idea that this was a “STEM project. You don’t tell the FAA it is a STEM project then charge six bucks and change to watch the result of your STEM project on Hulu.)

 I have talked with many skydivers and pilots about this situation, and by a large majority they believe that Luke made make the decision to do the stunt without the FAA exemption knowing full well that the worst that could happen (from an FAA enforcement perspective) is that he (and fellow-stunt-pilot/cousin Andy Farrington) would lose their pilot’s certificates for a year. I do not know if that is what they were willing to accept in order to fulfill Luke’s commitments to Hulu, Red Bull and Honda. But I do know that when he published his admission of responsibility for not “sharing” the FAA’s exemption denial with his team, Luke was attempting to convince everyone that he did not share the exemption denial with even his cousin or the underwriters of his project. While I find that hard to believe, if it is true – it can only mean that he was certainly willing to risk the pilot certificate of his fellow pilot and close family member.  That alone should bother everyone. If Luke did share the exemption denial with even one person involved in the project, then his mea culpa on Instagram was a blatant, very public lie. That is troubling as well.

 More importantly to USPA and its membership: Luke Aikins has damaged the bond of trust that exists between USPA and the FAA. He thumbed his nose at that critical relationship for the sake of his own personal and financial interests. Luke is not just a skydiver or USPA member. He is a very recognizable forward-facing Board member and representative for the interests of the skydiving community, including commercial skydiving entities. (Personally and professionally, I deal with the FAA on a very frequent basis. After 36 years of working with and cultivating a mutually trustworthy relationship with the FAA, no-one within or outside the USPA organization has the right to arbitrarily risk that trust, especially a Board member.)

 I know that many of you may be good friends with Luke Aikins, and this situation has made things difficult for everyone, especially Luke. However, you have a responsibility to the interests of the skydiving community and USPA’s efforts to protect and further enhance our sport. It is for this reason that I am calling for Luke Aikins to resign from the USPA board and vacate his position as a Regional Director. (He can run again, and will very likely be re-elected thanks to his very loyal following in his region.) If he does not resign voluntarily, he should be removed from the USPA board and his RD position at the earliest possible time. USPA (and Luke) must demonstrate to the FAA and membership that it will not allow anyone, even a highly accomplished and respected, extremely well-liked Board member to risk the critical trust USPA and its members share with the FAA. If you do not take meaningful action, or if you just give Luke Aikins a slap on the wrist you will be signaling to the FAA that further oversight or regulation may be required because even a Board member cannot be trusted to go by the rules. You will also be telling members that FAA regulations and BSRs can be ignored with little or no consequence, and that will open the door to legitimate challenges to USPA’s authority to exercise enforcement action against members when necessary.  That is a can of worms no-one wants opened.

 Very respectfully,

 Ron Lee

Skydiving Innovations"

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11 hours ago, swoopfly said:

You are insinuating that the “organization” would take action in its own board members. I think you fail to get how this works and I think you fail to see the reason these people join the good ole boys club in the first place . I can promise you it’s not for YOU. 

I honestly think most of them get into it to serve; staying in it is because then they feel like (and many are) influential.

Wendy P. 

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40 minutes ago, wmw999 said:

I honestly think most of them get into it to serve; staying in it is because then they feel like (and many are) influential.

Wendy P. 

I suppose it's helpful if you like holding the Nationals at your DZ on a regular basis. Some DZO's think it's a credential helpful to their business in other ways. But I do think you're right that most do it for the right reasons. Luke happens to be our RD. He's done a good job for us. He's smart, skilled, likable, and is on top of requests, etc. He's also hands off and, rather obviously, believes in freedom. I like him. My problem is twofold: Kapowsin, his family dropzone has tuned it into a hereditary seat for decades. For me, personally, being a USPA Official would be like a heavy sentence from a judge. Not my thing.  We do have several other small DZ operators who might do a creditable job but they don't have the votes Kapowsin can muster each and every election. My other problem is that whereas I was hoping that he and Andy pulled it off, making the attempt after they were denied by the FAA is just so disrespectful of the membership, DZ's and professional skydivers who make a living from skydiving, not only in the NW Region but, across America that personal integrity alone should have inspired an immediate resignation from his elected position. But, it didn't. That's not good.

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Oh, I completely agree with everything you said; both on the national director side and on the FAA side. It’s unacceptable, period. I’m not really for across the board term limits (experience does have some advantages), but most of our institutions, including USPA, go too far in the other direction, with, effectively, lifetime appointments  

Wendy P. 

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1 hour ago, JoeWeber said:

My problem is twofold: Kapowsin, his family dropzone has tuned it into a hereditary seat for decades. For me, personally, being a USPA Official would be like a heavy sentence from a judge. Not my thing.  We do have several other small DZ operators who might do a creditable job but they don't have the votes Kapowsin can muster each and every election. 

I'm afraid that's not how it works. Luke didn't inherit his seat, and there in fact is no such process to do so. Luke ran unopposed in the last election (as did most of the candidates for regional director). I don't recall about the election prior to that but he might have been unopposed in that one as well. If someone wishes to take a shot at his seat the only thing stopping them is their own lack of initiative. The vast majority of members don't vote, so a candidate that could motivate a higher turnout, such as Melissa Nelson did in the last election, would have a high likelihood of winning, regardless of what their home dropzone is.   

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20 minutes ago, Pat007 said:

I'm afraid that's not how it works. Luke didn't inherit his seat, and there in fact is no such process to do so. Luke ran unopposed in the last election (as did most of the candidates for regional director). I don't recall about the election prior to that but he might have been unopposed in that one as well. If someone wishes to take a shot at his seat the only thing stopping them is their own lack of initiative. The vast majority of members don't vote, so a candidate that could motivate a higher turnout, such as Melissa Nelson did in the last election, would have a high likelihood of winning, regardless of what their home dropzone is.   

Nope. I have operated a DZ for 33 years in this region. The reason no one else runs is that they know Kapowsin will farm the votes from their crew. It's been to that point for decades, since when Jessie Farrington controlled the seat, that anyone thought to waste their time trying. I've tried to schmooze Heather at Toledo into trying but she knows it's wasted effort. I also would support Afrika at Eugene skydivers but she's also too smart to waste the time. If Luke would just bail either would be excellent choices.

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7 minutes ago, JoeWeber said:

Nope. I have operated a DZ for 33 years in this region. The reason no one else runs is that they know Kapowsin will farm the votes from their crew. It's been to that point for decades, since when Jessie Farrington controlled the seat, that anyone thought to waste their time trying. I've tried to schmooze Heather at Toledo into trying but she knows it's wasted effort. I also would support Afrika at Eugene skydivers but she's also too smart to waste the time. If Luke would just bail either would be excellent choices.

If someone thinks mounting a vigorous campaign to earn votes is a waste of their time then it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Luke got 274 votes in the last election without even campaigning. All write-in candidates got 10 votes. I can't believe that there aren't at least 284 votes of non-Kapowsin jumpers to prevail in a head-to-head election (particularly in light of the fact that only about 15% of USPA members voted). I also don't believe that loyalty to a fellow Kapowsin jumper would outweigh voting for a candidate that offered more to the members than a Kapowsin candidate might. Lastly, I think it's a mistake to limit the field of potential candidates to DZOs. The board will be strongest by having as broad a representation of skydivers as possible - DZOs, fun jumpers, rating holders, etc.

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1 hour ago, Pat007 said:

If someone thinks mounting a vigorous campaign to earn votes is a waste of their time then it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Luke got 274 votes in the last election without even campaigning. All write-in candidates got 10 votes. I can't believe that there aren't at least 284 votes of non-Kapowsin jumpers to prevail in a head-to-head election (particularly in light of the fact that only about 15% of USPA members voted). I also don't believe that loyalty to a fellow Kapowsin jumper would outweigh voting for a candidate that offered more to the members than a Kapowsin candidate might. Lastly, I think it's a mistake to limit the field of potential candidates to DZOs. The board will be strongest by having as broad a representation of skydivers as possible - DZOs, fun jumpers, rating holders, etc.

I agree that the field shouldn't be limited to DZO's. In fact I'd agree that DZO's are best left off the ballot and I'd include all family members. That said, vested interests will prevail so that's just reality. I respect your perceptions. But please understand that there are other views that might be borne of more history: personal history that spans decades. 

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