"Skydivers Unite for Safety"
Mid-Eastern Region Safety Seminar 1998

Photo by Randy Connell

It was a perfectly good jump day in Richmond, Indiana that found 136 skydivers, not at manifest but, at the "Skydivers Unite for Safety", Mid-Eastern Region Safety Seminar. April 18, 1998 was the date of this first annual safety seminar, which was organized and sponsored by The Columbus School of Skydiving and hosted by Aerodrome Sky Sports.

Of those in attendance there were 22 Jumpmasters, 28 Instructors, 3 Instructor/Examiners, 13 Senior Riggers, 4 Master Riggers, and 13 held Pro Ratings. Surprisingly the attendees came from a total of 9 states with experience ranging from 1 jump to thousands.

The list of scheduled speakers was more than impressive. The day began with Steve Stewart, Owner/Operator of Aerodrome Sky Sports, who gave an engaging presentation on Safety and Mentoring. Steve explained how each of us are mentors or role models to new skydivers entering our sport, and how our actions today affect their actions tomorrow. Following Steve, was Glenn Bangs, USPA Director of Safety and Training, who gave us an informative presentation on the 1997 Year in Review covering everything from number of USPA Members to Skydiving Fatalities and their causes. Glenn also pointed out the jumper qualification changes for demonstration jumps and clarified the reasons for the increased insurance premiums.Corrinne Brackett , FAA Aviation Safety Inspector, elaborated on the topic, giving us the "FAA" perspective of what it takes to make a "legal" exhibition jump. Corrinne also educated us on the usual FAA regulations and concurred the need for a unified organization, such as the USPA, to maintain a self policed sport. Remember, WE ARE USPA! Before lunch we heard from Gary Cooper, USPA Mid-Eastern Regional Director. Gary spoke on Canopy Relative Work (CRW) and what type of gear to use to ensure a safer CRW jump.

During lunch, awards were presented by Glenn Bangs to Carl Steely for his 12 Hour Gold Freefall Badge and Sean Crossman for his 12 Hour Gold Freefall Badge and Gold Wings. Jim Keeney received his I/E rating from both Glenn Bangs and Dan Poynter of Para Publishing. Steve Alexander of The Columbus School of Skydiving received a special thank you from Dan Poynter, by being presented with the 1st copy of the 7th Edition – Parachuting: The Skydiver’s Handbook.

Andy Peckett, 1993 Skydiver of the Year was up after lunch to speak on Relative Work (RW) Safety. Andy covered Ambition vs. Ability when participating in RW skydives. What promotes you to get on that "big" RW skydive? Is it ABILITY or just AMBITION? John Goswitz, the North Central Regional Director, addressed questions and concerns about USPA membership services.

Towards the end of the day Cliff Schmucker, of SSK, Industries and President of the Parachute Industry Association (PIA) presented us with valuable information on Automatic Activation Devices (AAD’s) specifically the CYPRESS and how it has been proven as a life saving device. For our final presentation Dan Poynter gave a briefing on Symposium 99, spoke on Parachute testing and entertained us with some awesome video footage of Parachute Testing in action. Although Roger Nelson of Skydive Chicago was unable to attend due to last minute details with his new Drop Zone he promises to make it up next year.

With this event, skydiving seminars were brought into the 20th century with a computer operated slide show and large screen video projection. Skydiving videos were also shown for entertainment during breaks and lunch.

A special thanks is in order to the Ramada Inn in Richmond, formerly Holiday Inn, for finally letting us back after the infamous USPA party held during the Nationals 20 years ago.

The first "Skydivers Unite for Safety", Mid-Eastern Region Safety Seminar is now at a close. For all of those who attended, if each person took away only one piece of information that will make them a safer skydiver then the seminar has served its purpose.

"Our society has evolved and our sport has changed over the years. Moving from clubs to centers we have lost the social aspects of the sport but you have proved that skydivers will turn out if an event is worth attending. You reinvented a skydiving event and found a lost skydiving community. Congratulations!"

--Dan Poynter, D-454
Past USPA Chairman of the Board

"This seminar was a success for two reasons" Said Steve Alexander of The Columbus School of Skydiving, "A Skydivers desire for information and the cooperation of professional speakers to give it. We hope that we can continue with this seminar in the years to come, possibly rotating to DZ’s throughout the region."

Skydivers Unite for Safety 1999