Monday, March 12, 2012

Proposed USHPA Tandem Rule Changes

The tandem committee at the 2012 Spring USHPA board meeting will be considering some changes to tandem regulations at their upcoming meeting. Some pilots are concerned about a few of the changes, including one that would prohibit BASE-style skydive jumps from tandems at non-USHPA sites. There is already a rule prohibiting this at USHPA sites, but this new rule would go even further. Steve Roti, an Oregon instructor and tandem pilot, and a longtime USHPA volunteer, has started a petition to show that many pilots don't think it's necessary to have the rule applied to non-USHPA sites.

Steve makes the following points in support of signing the petition:
1. There's no evidence skydiving/jumping from tandems is any riskier than traditional tandem flights.
2. There haven't been any reported accidents or insurance claims as a result of jumping from tandems.
3. Our sport is constantly evolving, and it's better for our national association to be inclusive rather than excluding newer forms of paragliding-related activities.

The petition doesn't refer to this activity as BASE jumping from tandems, because it doesn't meet the formal definition of BASE. It could be argued that jumping from tandems is less risky than BASE jumping because there's no building or cliff to get in the way if the parachute opens in the wrong direction.
Jon Malmberg, another Oregon instructor and tandem pilot, who many of us know from his time in Hawaii, adds the following details in support of the petition:
Presently there is a push within USHPA to revisit the following tandem issues … Steve Roti has helped to put together a petition to at least block item 5. Item 4 is also something that a lot of you tandem pilots should also be aware of.

Tandem Committee
1. Review action/AIMS items from previous BOD (all completed)
2. Review current list of Administrators for currency (keep/delete as needed)
3. Discuss new recommendations for new Tandem Administrator candidates. (none to date)
4. Develop SOP(s) prohibiting tandem Aerobatics.
5. Revisit rule for “not dropping people” and discuss making it a blanket rule.
6. Discuss other ways to minimize liability/exposure regarding Tandem flying.
7. Discuss tandem accidents (none to date).

Please sign if this is something important to you. Or sign if you view this as an encroachment on our ability to fly freely at non-USHPA sites. In my mind along with point 4, it appears that USHPA is looking to over regulate our tandem flying abilities to deal with the present insurance problems. Please note item seven. Yes, zero tandem incidents to date. [since the last board meeting?].


Jon Malmberg said...

I am working closely with Steve and others who will be at the BOD in regards to this issue.

I fully understand and agree with following USHPA rules at USPHA sponsored sites, but this blanket rule is trying to impose that influence to areas where USPHA has zero lawful right.

My personal issue is that this is my free choice, and I should not have to be worried about my tandem license being revoked. The FAA presently does not outlaw this activity if done in a manner not to damamge third party property or life. The FAA is the law of the land, not USHPA.

If this rule change is passed, what next. ACRO, Speed Flying, and then maybe all towing operations?

If you have any concern regarding your rights for free flight, I would urge you to consider signing this petition.

Sincerely, Jon Malmberg

Jon Malmberg said...

Ya won't have to worry about me dropping past you at either Makapuu or Kahana. Both are USPHA recognized and supported sites!


Gravity said...

As the resident local Tandem Administer I support the Petition as I have the most experience 'Dropping my passengers'.
It should not be called B.A.S.E as it is 'Parachuting' from a paraglider.
Next they will outlaw having to deploy your parachute in a paraglider.
I believe it is just as safe as paragliding, or parachuting.
The danger factors involved are having other pilots fly underneath a parachuting jumper, chute not opening, and no time for a reserve opening.
But, it is alot safer for the B.A.S.E jumper in the fact that there is no object to hit such as Building, antennae, span, or earth (cliff).
I support the Tandem parachuting petition at non-USHPA sites.

If you have any comments regarding this and any other USHPA issues for the upcoming BOD meetings. I will be there Wednesday thru Saturday of next week attending the meetings as our local USHPA rep.

Pete "Reaper" Michelmore

firedave2 said...

There isn't that much difference skydiving off a tandem or off an aircraft. As a USHPA tandem pilot I think USHPA might be overstepping their mandate. It is a club to provide access and insurance, so that we could go on participating in our risky activity, not to stifle fun. Having said that, I don't BASE jump, but find it exciting to watch. I signed the petition, hoping that the board carefully considers before adding more rules. If the FAA doesn't mind, why should our club.