Rating Corner | Canopy Education Projects
The Rating Corner | Feb 09, 2024
Rating Corner | Canopy Education Projects

Angie Aragon

The USPA Board of Directors has been working on various canopy-flight related projects since its summer 2023 meeting in July. Two groups—the Canopy Task Force and the Tandem Examiner Working Group—are focused on improving canopy-flight education in different areas. USPA is looking for feedback and input on the possible changes that the USPA Board will discuss during its winter meeting February 23-25 in Orlando, Florida.

These are the canopy-flight related projects that are currently in the works:

Canopy Task Force

Five board members—Angie Aragon, Jeannie Bartholomew, Sherry Butcher, Melissa Nelson and Brandon Radcliff—as well as USPA staff member Jen Sharp, make up the Canopy Task Force. Its goal is to review the canopy-education portions of the Skydiver’s Information Manual, Instructional Rating Manual and USPA’s licensing programs to see where there is room for improvement. The task force has identified four areas of focus:

     1| Canopy-flight education while working toward the A license, including expanding, improving and implementing canopy dive flows for students, as well as reframing some of canopy skills as canopy emergency procedures.

     2| Provide canopy-skill content and teaching techniques in the Instructional Rating Manual to provide rating holders with specifics relating to canopy drills and their application as canopy emergency procedures.

     3| Revisit the goals and content of USPA’s B-license canopy education materials and explore the possibility of expanding canopy education into the C- or D-license programs. D-license holders have many of the fatal canopy incidents, so the task force is looking at ways to address this.

     4| Provide education and best practices for three periods: before changing or downsizing a canopy, at the time of a change or downsize and long-term proficiency maintenance.

At its February meeting, the USPA Board will address:

      1| Proposed changes to the A-License Proficiency Card to separate canopy skills from freefall skills.

      2| Proposed changes to the Instructor Rating Manual to add detailed instructions for teaching canopy dive flows.

      3| Proposed Canopy Downsizing Progression Card that USPA would recommend (not require) jumpers to use when downsizing canopies. Jumpers would perform and document canopy drills during dedicated hop-and-pops to determine readiness to downsize, as well as maintain proficiency on the new canopy.

      4| Identify canopy exercises jumpers can perform to better prepare for landing emergencies and familiarize the community with the phrase canopy-flight emergency procedures (canopy-flight EPs).

In conjunction with Safety Day, USPA is encouraging jumpers to practice canopy emergency procedures with the Stay Alive, Practice Five campaign. The five exercises are:

      1| Rear-riser turns—for collision avoidance while maintaining a level wing

      2| Braked turns—for obstacle avoidance and to slow the rate of descent

      3| Half-braked flares—for recovery from a high flare, turbulence or low turn

      4| Reverse turns—for collision avoidance

      5| Low-turn recovery—to neutralize a turn and follow through with a symmetric flare

Jumpers can use this QR code (or visit tinyurl.com/mr4xwad8) to provide the Canopy Task Force with feedback on this project:

Tandem Canopy Education

The Tandem Examiner Working Group consists of approximately half of all USPA Tandem Examiners. It is developing canopy-focused training for new tandem instructors (those in training or with fewer than 100 tandem jumps).

Since August 2023, Angie Aragon has spearheaded a research project to gather data and understand what examiners are teaching in the field. The working group has used that data to develop instructor-training dive flows in two major areas: learning to fly a tandem canopy and learning canopy emergency procedures.

The working group will propose for board approval a list of recommended canopy dive flows for examiners to use in the field in the upcoming season. Some of the ideas for drills are:

  • Sweet spot and flare technique
  • Tandem canopy flight cycle from different braked positions
  • Flaring from different braked positions
  • Turbulence and turn recovery
  • Stacking and communication
  • High-wind set up and landing approach
  • Landing Priorities, then accuracy, accuracy, accuracy!

If approved, the working group will make the dive flows available, along with training on how to teach them. Those who would like to be involved or would like more information can reach out to Angie Aragon directly at aaragon@uspa.org.


The USPA Board of Directors will discuss these proposals at its winter meeting in Orlando, Florida, February 23-25. USPA members in good standing can attend in person or virtually.  

National Director Angie Aragon | D-30898
IAD Instructor; Coach, AFF and Tandem Examiner

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