At the end of June, USPA achieved a milestone—40,000 current members! Actually, the monthly total was 40,001. New skydiver Lenny Botak, USPA #325501, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hit the milestone number of 40,000 when he joined online at Alliance Sport Parachute Club in Petersburg, Ohio, on the last day of the month. He has made 17 jumps since starting the instructor-assisted deployment student program at Alliance in April.
It took USPA just over five years to grow from 35,000 members, a number it reached in May 2013 when Heather Terry, USPA #269938, of Orchard Lake, Michigan, joined after starting skydiving at Skydive Tecumseh. She now has 392 jumps and enjoys big-ways and helping new skydivers. And USPA celebrated the 30,000-member mark in September 1995 when Lori Mathews, USPA #113094, of Suffolk, Virginia, joined after jumping at Skydive Suffolk.
Though USPA had 30,000 members in 1995, it’s a bit misleading to say that it took 23 years to grow by 10,000 members. From 1995, membership increased steadily to 34,583 until the attacks of September 2001 suppressed skydiving activity, along with all other forms of aviation. USPA membership went into a decline every year for five years before bottoming out at 30,488 in October 2006. Since then, membership has rebounded and has now passed the 40,000-member mark, and USPA couldn’t be more pleased.
USPA is also excited to announce the STAR (Skydiving Technology Advancement Roundup) technology development competition. If you have an idea for a new app, software program or digital device that will enhance skydiving, your chance to demonstrate it and gain some funding and recognition is coming!
Since its inception as a civilian sport in the 1950s, skydiving has readily adopted new technology to enhance the sport’s safety, efficiency and fun. In the early days, improvements focused on deployment systems, as well as modifications that gave maneuverability to round parachutes. Then came new canopy designs that created lift. Innovators then introduced mechanical automatic activation devices, lighter canopies, smaller rigs and altimeters and audible devices. More recently, technology improvements have come by way of new digital equipment and software applications, which have resulted in the proliferation of cameras, flight recorders, weather and spotting apps and manifest software.
To encourage and provide impetus to innovations beneficial to skydiving, USPA will hold a technology contest in conjunction with our exhibit at the February 4-8 Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Dallas, Texas. USPA’s STAR competition, co-sponsored by Sigma, will be a collaborative effort to spotlight and support new software that benefits skydiving in some way. Software developers who qualify will have the opportunity to demonstrate their products at the USPA exhibit booth that week and compete for cash prizes and attention from potential investors.
The competition is open to anyone who manufactures, designs, engineers or promotes technology products in the skydiving field and has a new product that fits within one of the designated award categories.
For more details, see page 16 in this issue of Parachutist.