Thursday, March 5, 2015

The USPA Safety Day is March 14th. What will you speak about as their pilot?

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) designates the second Saturday in March of every year to be its Safety Day and this year that happens to be on March 14th.  Started in 1997, it is the day that all of the USPA drop zones around the country gather up their employees and skydivers to review safety issues.  

Many of the skydivers are a little rusty from not jumping much (if at all) during the Winter months and is why it is held at this time of year. The only problem with Safety Day is that it's only one day a year. If I owned a drop zone we would have safety meetings every month. Even if it was simply a 15 minute safety review on a Saturday morning.

If this will be your first Safety Day at your DZ as a Jump Pilot, be sure and ask your DZO if it will be okay if you can speak at the general meeting. Be sure and write down at least an outline of items that you want your Skydivers, Manifest and Ground Crew to know or be reminded of.  As pilots we are taught that safety is #1, so do not simply stand up and say a couple words.  Take advantage of the fact that you have everyone's attention on the topic of safety. Personally, I usually talk about Weight & Balance, Safety Belts, Emergency Procedures and Prop Awareness during hot fueling, to name a few.

One of the most important things to remind your skydivers of, is what you as Pilot in Command will DEMAND of them in the event of an emergency. I personally demand that they remain calm (or try), do not tap me on the shoulder to ask silly questions (usually to ask if they can jump) and NO ONE touches that door unless I say so. 

If a s skydiver ever opened the door and jumped out during an emergency situation without my approval, I would have them grounded for a weekend. If the DZO disagrees with my punishment for them, then he/she can find another pilot for that weekend. Luckily I have only had to discipline a couple skydivers over the years. They all ended up thanking me for giving them a "time out" and they ended up respecting me more as their pilot.

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