Playing It Safe at 13,000 Feet. 2009 National Skydiving Safety Day Springs Into Action on March 14.

Celebrate National Skydiving Safety Day (March 14th) with the USPA brush up on basic skills and learn new procedures that will keep them safely soaring through the skies.

San Diego, CA, March 11, 2009 --( When it comes to jumping out of an airplane, the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA), America’s skydiving authority, is serious about safety.

A record number of Americans took to the skies last year: 2.6 million. That’s 100,000 more skydives than in 2007. The USPA is ensuring skydiving’s up-tick in popularity with its annual National Skydiving Safety Day on March 14, to be held at affiliated drop zones and skydiving schools throughout the country.

Each year the USPA sets aside the second Saturday in March to concentrate on making the sport safer and prepare jumpers for the year ahead through a series of skydiving seminars and training drills that serve as both a refresher course and an introduction to new developments, equipment, disciplines, and training methods.

Though not mandatory, the USPA encourages all its 220 affiliated drop zones in the United States and skydivers of all experience levels to partake in this annual event that promotes safety and the socialization of its members.

USPA Safety & Training Advisors and other drop zone staff members coordinate Skydiving Safety Day so seasoned skydivers and rookie jumpers alike can evaluate equipment, brush up on basic skills and learn new procedures that will keep them safely soaring through the skies.

Topics to be covered include:
- Equipment —A review of equipment and emphasis on diligent maintenance and parachute packing are the first step towards ensuring a problem-free freefall. (Equipment problems accounted for13% of fatal skydiving accidents in 2008.)
- Skydiving Emergency Review and Drills —Presenters will assess problems, reinforce altitude awareness, discuss disorientation, and allow participants to practice in a suspended harness. (Incorrect emergency procedures accounted for 26% of fatal skydiving accidents last year.)
- The Skydive —Planning and preparation can prevent accidents. A review of acceptable and unacceptable practices and hazards, and careful examination of canopy handling help preventing low-turn accidents. (From leap to landing, parachute control issues and freefall collisions make up the majority of skydiving fatalities – 47%.)
- Aircraft Procedures and Emergencies — Getting on, getting up, and getting out. Knowing proper exit order and loading procedures to maintain aircraft weight and balance limits, air traffic control requirements, and what to do in possible aircraft emergency scenarios can determine the outcome of any jump.

Skydiving Safety Day is crucial as thousands more Americans take to the skies. The last five years, especially, have seen some high-flying, record-breaking numbers:

The USPA reports that in 2008 there were more than 2.6 million total skydives in the U.S., and that the association ended 2008 with 31,534 members, their highest year-end number since 2004.

The USPA added 5,570 new members in 2008, the most in a year since 2003. There were 4,736 licenses issued in 2008, again the most since 2003.

Instructional ratings were up as well, at 1,422 for 2008 – the most in any year since the rating system was revamped in 2001.

The USPA is dedicated to skydiving safety through the development of training programs, licensing policies, a multi-tiered rating program for skydiving instructors, and other strict safety standards its members pledge to follow and adhere to.

About USPA:
USPA is America’s premier organization dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving nationwide, establishing strict safety standards, training policies and programs at 220 affiliated skydiving schools/centers. The Federal Aviation Administration recognizes and supports USPA's successful leadership role in the self-regulation of skydiving.

USPA hosts the 2009 National Skydiving Championships, the sport’s largest and most exciting annual competition, on October 12-27 at Skydive Spaceland, south of Houston, Texas.

Skydive Spaceland is also the site of USPA’s 2009 National Collegiate Parachuting Championships, set for December 28, 2009 – January 2, 2010.

For more information call 1-800-371-USPA.

The United States Parachute Association
Robert Arends