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rondoman last won the day on May 13

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  1. 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, (, 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"
  2. Are you looking to do "demos", and do them the right way? Skydiving Innovations is conducting another incredible course covering every critical element required in order to conduct safe, thrilling and inspiring skydiving shows. Learn from the very best - we've been doing this for 33 years, performing at demonstrations in to some of the coolest and most compelling venues! Downtown city streets, beaches, aircraft carriers, golf courses, stadiums, densely populated areas and more. Learn how and why to make the right decisions when performing demonstrations. We're incident/accident/claim-free in all 33 years of operation. We know demos, and we know safety. Course Location: Skydive San Diego Course Date: Saturday June 8, 2019. Sunday June 9th is a backup date in case of weather on Saturday. Course Cost: $450.00. Must be prepaid at least one week prior to the course date. Course includes: All classroom instruction and materials, four practical application jumps from 5,000 feet, using flags, smoke and other special effects. Everything is included in this course. Course Participants: Minimum D license and 500 jumps. Only eight slots are available for this course. Watch these teaser videos to get an idea of what "doing demos" can be like, then message us through this page to reserve your slot. You'll be glad you did. See our website at Contact me for further information. Ron Lee Skydiving Innovations
  3. I am trying to find some contact info for Dick Fortenberry. (World champ in the 60's). Anyone have any info on how I might contact him? Thanks Ron Rondo
  4. Absolutely agree, Bill. The BSR's are the right place to address this issue, and designating separate landing areas is the best way to minimize the opportunity for collisions. Ron Rondo
  5. Keith, Seems the only time you respond to my posts is to dis me. What's up with that? Please re-read my post. It states a simple observation: most of the folks all fired up and upset about the Skydive San Diego situation are seemingly unwilling to ask the source: Buzz. Yet, they are VERY willing to disparage and vilify the guy online when operating with just half the story. Ask him about it, then make a judgement. That's the adult thing to do. Rondo
  6. Seems to me, not one person, other than perhaps Enrique, has suggested asking Buzz for his side of this. Yet, plenty of people are willing to flame away while having only one half of the story. Rondo
  7. No problem Keith. Not that I don't trust you guys, but I may leave a tad LATE... Rondo
  8. Thanks for the invite Buzz. Barbara, Molly and Keith: warmest regards. Rondo
  9. My apologies to all for such a heated response. Rondo Rondo
  10. Sorry Keith. Just exactly WHICH dz were you referring to, then?
  11. Give me a break. This incessant barrage of accusations, innuendo and baseless attacks against Skydive San Diego is nothing more than whiny experienced jumpers trying to get back at the dz management (read that "Buzz" ) for not kissing their asses and giving them everything they want. Who in the world would believe a tandem master would leave student with a broken leg? We need to cut to the chase here: Keith, Molly and Barbara are three pissed off ex-Otay jumpers who think they're getting back at Buzz, while at the same time encouraging jumpers to go over to Joe Masalta's operation at Brown Field. THEY should try owning and operating a drop zone. Don't have the money, patience or stones for that? Then don't attack those who DO. I have jumped at Otay since 1982, and have seen and experienced every operation and owner. The one constant is that SOME experienced jumpers gain a sense of entitlement, and if they don't get what they want they piss on what they had. Good luck Joe. Just wait till these three don't like how YOU run YOUR dz. Ron Lee Rondo