A record 79 canopy pilots—57 from the United States and 22 guest competitors from around the world—took part in the 2013 USPA National Canopy Piloting Championships at Skydive City, Zephyrhills, Florida, May 8 -10. Canopy pilots divided up into two classes: 55 in Open Class and 24 in Advanced Class, competing for gold and glory while having a great time with their friends—more like a family reunion for the close-knit international CP community. Blessed with fair Florida weather and the “go-the- extra- mile” support of host Skydive City, the competition was fierce and performances spectacular, filled with zigs, zags, high drama and a climactic finish in Zone Accuracy between reigning world champion, Curt Bartholomew and his close friend and rival, Nick Batsch. Both men scored perfect 100 point landings in their final jump, with Batsch besting Bartholomew, 849.248 to 847.478 points—a scant 1.7 point spread to take the gold overall medal.
For U.S. competitors, the meet was a fiercely-contested trial to determine which 12 competitors would win the prestigious opportunity to represent the United States at the World Cup of Canopy Piloting at Kolomna, Russia, 25 Aug-1 Sep., as well earn one of the coveted slots to compete later this year at the much-anticipated (and not yet officially announced) 4th Dubai International Parachuting Cup. In addition, canopy pilots of every nationality vied to break continental, national and world records, and some elite canopy pilots did exactly that. Top marks of the meet:
CP Competition Distance
(Standing U.S. & World FAI Records: Nicholas Batsch–154.09 meters; Jessica Edgeington, 120.18 meters):
CP Competition Speed
(Standing U.S. & World FAI Records: Greg Windmiller—2.404 seconds; Jessica Edgeington—2.605 seconds)
The twelve U.S. competitors chosen to the U.S. Team, in order of overall standings:
For complete on-line coverage and results, go to uspanationals.com
On April 10 President Obama unveiled his 2014 budget. Within that budget, the administration proposed a new aviation user fee of $100 per flight in controlled airspace, which is airspace in which air traffic control can provide services, e.g. Class A, B, C, D and E airspace. The administration proposed exemptions for piston aircraft and a variety of public and military aircraft, but presumably, turbine jump planes would be charged $100 for each takeoff. Given that some turbines fly 25 loads per day, some operators would pay $2,500 per day for each airplane flown.
On April 11, USPA wrote to the president explaining how such a fee would devastate businesses that operate skydiving airplanes. USPA described a new user fee as, “inequitable, duplicative and (requiring) a new, costly bureaucratic process to assess and collect the fee,” and requested that the president withdraw his aviation user fee proposal. Like virtually every other aviation association, USPA supports the current system where aviation users pay a federal tax on aviation fuels, the revenues of which are invested into the aviation system. Once an aviation user fee is implemented, chances are high that the fee will increase and it will be applied to more types of aircraft.
Since then, USPA has asked all drop zone operators to contact their members of Congress to advise them of the potential impact on their businesses. (Even piston aircraft DZs occasionally use turbines, and most aspire to grow into a turbine business.) Now we are asking skydivers to weigh in as well by asking your members of Congress to oppose an aviation user fee and support the current federal tax on aviation fuels. A $100-per-flight fee will increase the cost of skydiving from turbine airplanes by 20 to 40 percent; jump tickets would rise from $25 to $30 or more. Many members of Congress already oppose aviation user fees, so the proposal must pass a high hurdle in Congress. However, all skydivers should ensure their members of Congress know the impact on skydiving.
Use the link below and enter your zip code to go to the websites of your two senators and your representative. Each congressperson’s website has a “contact” page that will let you paste your letter into a portal directly to your member of Congress. Be sure to type your name and include your return address. Customize the model letter found below any way you want. This is so important. We all must fight the very concept of an aviation user fee.
Proposed Budget Sample
Executive Director Ed Scott's Letter to President Obama
Skydive Radio Interview with Ed Scott
Sample letter you can send to your representative
USA.gov – Find your elected officials
On April 11, one day after President Obama unveiled his 2014 budget containing a new $100 per flight user fee, USPA wrote to the president explaining how such a fee would devastate businesses that operate skydiving airplanes. The new fee would apply to each flight by a turbine aircraft in controlled airspace. “It is clear that no one within the administration understands that turbine jump planes routinely make up to 25 flights per day. An operator with one turbine airplane could pay $2,500 each day in user fees; an operator with two aircraft could pay $5,000 each day,” said Ed Scott, USPA’s Executive Director. USPA pointed out that those same operators already pay between $158 and $263 per aircraft per day in federal fuel taxes on jet fuel. USPA described a new user fee as “inequitable, duplicative and (requiring) a new, costly bureaucratic process to assess and collect the fee.” USPA requested that the president withdraw his aviation user fee proposal. Many Members of Congress already oppose aviation user fees, so the administration has a high hurdle to clear to get a bill through Congress. However, USPA and skydiving businesses need to take action now, rather than counting on Congress to defeat the proposed tax.
USPA staff has been talking this week with senior Federal Aviation Administration officials about the possible effects of the automatic federal government spending cuts known as sequestration, set to take effect on March 1. Even if full sequestration goes into effect on March 1, the impact will not be immediate. The FAA is required to provide employees with 30-days’ notice, so furloughs would begin no sooner than early April, followed by a steady throttling down of programs and processes.
The FAA’s Air Traffic Organization (ATO) will start by cutting out and cutting back low-activity air traffic control towers located at some 300 airports around the U.S. For the handful of DZs at towered airports, a tower closure should mean that the airport reverts back to a non-towered airport with Class E airspace, and jump operations should be able to continue. For the majority of DZs, enroute and approach controllers should be able to continue providing the radio communication services described by Federal Aviation Regulation Part 105.13, which requires that a jump pilot establish radio communication with ATC at least five minutes prior to each drop. Again, there should be no immediate change for jump operations.
USPA has provided more detailed information to DZ operators. USPA staff will stay in close contact with FAA officials and advise DZs and USPA members of new developments.
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