The Summer 2018 USPA Board Of Directors Meeting

The Summer 2018 USPA Board Of Directors Meeting

By USPA Staff

Features | September 2018
Saturday, September 1, 2018

The 2018 USPA Board of Directors summer meeting—the sixth and final meeting of the 2016-2018 board before the fall elections—took place July 13-15. For the board’s first visit to Milwaukee, Skydive Midwest in nearby Sturtevant, Wisconsin, welcomed board members and staff to the drop zone the Thursday before the meeting, and everyone enjoyed the cool, northern temperatures and blue skies before heading into three days of meetings. Compared to recent meetings, agendas were light, allowing the board to explore each topic fully. Detailed meeting minutes will appear on once the board compiles and approves them, but here are some of the most noteworthy outcomes:


At the summer meeting each year, USPA may choose to bestow its Lifetime Achievement Award on one member who has made significant contributions to the sport of parachuting and USPA. For 2018, the board selected Pat Thomas, USPA #273081, for nearly three decades of advancing the sport of skydiving by sponsoring competitors and teams, being a leader in the harness-and-container manufacturing industry and masterfully organizing the Parachute Industry Association Symposium.

Additionally, the board may award up to three USPA Gold Medals for Meritorious Service. This award honors outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community. For 2018, the board chose Greg Windmiller, D-20004; Mike Horan, D-881; and jointly Mary Bauer, D-8123, and Bob Stumm, D-3604.

The board also recognized four individuals with USPA Regional Achievement Awards for making a significant contribution to the sport on a local or regional level. Recipients are Kevin “Ratboy” Carver, D-18229, Mid-Atlantic region; Stephen “Raff” Rafferty, D-12337, Pacific region; Brandon Radcliff, D-31962, Southeast region; and Marc DeTrano, D-22324, foreign region.


Unlike at the winter meeting, when it concentrates on the association’s annual budget, the Finance & Budget Committee’s summer meeting focuses on ensuring the board performs its financial due diligence. Accordingly, the committee reviewed and accepted the completed 2017 audit performed by Rogers & Co., which was clean with no issues of concern. The committee also reviewed USPA’s investments and its conservative investment strategy and discussed USPA’s upcoming capital needs. With the USPA Headquarters building now 12 years old, the association needs to budget to replace the carpeting and the heating and cooling system soon, and the roof in five to six years. All told, USPA forecasts its capital needs over the next six years to be in the $143,000 to $163,000 range.

Finally, the Finance & Budget Committee reviewed a request from the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame Board of Trustees for a six-year financial commitment from USPA. The museum—once planned to be built next to USPA Headquarters but now planned to be built in the Orlando, Florida, area—is about one-third of the way toward its $14 million construction goal. Over the years, USPA has provided in-kind support by donating office space and advertising in Parachutist magazine, which supplemented a $25,000 cash donation in 1999. After reviewing several options, the board approved a motion providing the museum with $25,000 per year over the next six years, while also continuing to provide free and discounted advertising.


The Executive Committee coordinates appeals by members facing disciplinary action as a result of violating the Basic Safety Requirements, endangering other skydivers or impugning skydiving or the association. There were two such appeals at this meeting, with the full board affirming the disciplinary actions previously assigned to the two members.

The committee is also responsible for using the donor-supported Airport Access and Defense Fund to assist Group Member drop zones and USPA members who are fighting legal battles for skydiving’s rightful place on airports and in the airspace system. Motor City Skydiving, which is trying to open a DZ on the state-owned Romeo Airport, has been in such a legal battle with the State of Michigan. With USPA’s help, the DZ finally prevailed in a formal Part 16 complaint filed with the Federal Aviation Administration, with the FAA finding that airport management had engaged in unacceptable delaying tactics and ordering the airport to allow skydiving. With the precedent-setting win, USPA’s board voted to split the legal bill with the DZ, allocating $8,588.59 from the AAD Fund.


USPA’s Governance Committee and the Constitution & Bylaws Committee together shepherded changes to the association’s Governance Manual detailing how the board of directors makes decisions between scheduled board meetings. USPA originally incorporated in the State of New York and must abide by its laws that apply to nonprofit organizations. Recent changes in New York law require that boards must facilitate actual dialogue between all board members when making decisions in between meetings. For decades, USPA’s process provided for interim decisions via email voting. At this meeting, the board adopted changes to the Governance Manual and USPA’s bylaws, adopting new procedures that conform to New York state law.


Under the seasoned guidance of Chair Kirk Verner, the Competition Committee modified multiple rules, some of which will affect this year’s USPA National Championships. These changes include:

• removing Random P, “Upright Half Rebel,” from the advanced mixed formation skydiving dive pool

• removing outside three-meter gates G2 through G4 (and subsequently the rule for vertical extension on those gates) in the advanced canopy piloting speed event

• changes to the Skydiver’s Competition Manual’s language of who can sign off on certain competition records, giving appropriately rated judges who observe record performances the ability to sign off as a certifying official

• adopting freestyle canopy piloting as a test event sometime during 2019 at a location to be determined

Finally, due to ongoing disagreements with the National Aeronautic Association, the board voted to allow the USPA President and IPC Delegate to engage an attorney to investigate the enforcement of USPA’s Letter of Agreement with the NAA and to request the opportunity to appeal to the NAA Board of Directors.


With five board meetings under their belts and the steadfast leadership of Chair Michael Wadkins, members of the Safety & Training Committee made quick work of their agenda.

The committee elected to expand the 2019 examiner standardization meetings to include coach examiners. USPA will conduct five four-day meetings, with day one specific to coach examiners, a general session on day two, day three specific to tandem instructor examiners and day four specific to AFF instructor examiners. The dates and locations are:

• February 7-10 in Dallas, Texas, in conjunction with the Parachute Industry Association Symposium

• April 30-May 3 at Skydive Sussex in New Jersey

• July 16-19 at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois

• October 15-18 at Skydive San Diego/TACAir in Jamul, California

• December 3-6 at United Parachute Technologies in DeLand, Florida

USPA will schedule an additional meeting in Germany but has not yet chosen a location or date.

To align USPA licenses with the standards of Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale Certificates of Proficiency, the board made a few changes to license requirements, effective with the release of the 2019-2020 Skydiver’s Information Manual:

• The USPA A license will require 25 freefall skydives, instead of the current 25 jumps.

• The USPA B license will require completion of at least 10 formation skydives or 10 freefly jumps, at least five of which in either discipline must involve at least three participants.

• The USPA C license will require the successful completion of at least 50 formation skydives or 50 freefly jumps, at least 10 of which in either discipline must involve at least four participants.

In addition, the board aligned the number of air-evaluation jumps for IAD and static-line instructor examiner ratings with the requirements for the coach examiner and tandem instructor examiner ratings by requiring the completion of at least 25 air-evaluation jumps (up from 15). Also, a Category D freefall and ground training evaluation jump is now mandatory for all IAD and static-line instructor candidates, even if they hold an AFF or tandem rating.

The committee discussed adding a high-performance requirement for anyone earning a PRO rating using a parachute with a wing loading higher than 1.5:1. A sub-group will present its recommendations for overhauling the rating requirements at the next board meeting.

The committee also tackled the subject of wind tunnel training for first-jump students, since the Basic Safety Requirements did not clearly address this. The full board approved a sub-group’s proposal stating that once a first-jump student has demonstrated the ability to maintain stability, move forward and backward, perform controlled turns, demonstrate altitude awareness and simulate main-parachute activations in a wind tunnel under supervision of an AFF instructor, the student may begin skydiving with only one AFF instructor.     


With the final actions of this board complete, President Jay Stokes tapped the gavel to end the final meeting of the 2016-2018 USPA Board of Directors. Since elections for all 22 seats on the board begin in October, members shared fond farewells and well wishes, not knowing who might be seated at the table in the winter. The new board will meet February 1-3 in Dallas in conjunction with the Parachute Industry Association Symposium.

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