United States Parachute Association > Experienced Skydivers > SIM > Section 8

Section 8: Membership Awards Programs

Section Summary

Important Reference Numbers

  • USPA Chesley H. Judy Safety Award instructions—8-1.3
  • Service awards, including recipients of the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award and Gold Medal for Meritorious Service—8-1.4-5
  • Achievement awards, including rules for accumulating number of jumps or freefall time—8-2
  • Performance awards, including rules for accomplishments in canopy formation—8-3
  • Tenure Awards—8-4

USPA presents awards to individual members in recognition of their accomplishments in skydiving. These awards programs have been established to provide both goals and recognition in a variety of fields. Each of these awards represents a significant milestone achieved by an individual skydiver.

Service awards are reserved for special USPA members whose contributions to the organization and the sport meet the criteria established by the award.

Achievement awards are earned by accumulating numbers of jumps (by thousands) or freefall time (12-hour increments).

Performance awards are presented for accomplishments in canopy formations.

Tenure awards are granted for longevity, measured by years of USPA membership.

who  needs  this  section?

  • jumpers applying for USPA awards
  • jumpers nominating others for USPA awards
  • USPA officials verifying awards
  • USPA Board members seeking procedures for awards nominations and selection
  • anyone interested in reviewing some of the most notable USPA members over the years


8-1 Service Awards

A. Introduction

  1. The USPA Membership Services Committee is charged by the USPA Board of Directors with the preparation of recommendations of USPA members who are eligible for major national and international awards, medals, and other special recognitions.
  2. Final action on these recommendations is the responsibility of the full board of directors, but all members of the association are invited to submit nominations to the Membership Services Committee, via USPA Headquarters, for any and all awards.
  3. The Membership Services Committee will consider only nominees who have served the cause and interests of skydiving in general and the USPA in particular.
  4. No current member of the USPA Board of Directors will be recommended by USPA for any award during the term of office.

B. Procedures

Note: the following procedures apply to all service awards except the USPA Chesley H. Judy Safety Award, which is provided in the section for that specific award.

  1. Nominations
    1. Identify the nominee, including address and telephone number.
    2. Identify the nominator, including email address and telephone number.
    3. Prepare the citation in 30 words or less capturing the essence of the achievement for which the nominee’s name has been submitted.
    4. In 100 words or less, give complete, concise details justifying the award to the nominee, with pertinent background information to assist the committee.
    5. Nominations for all USPA awards must be received at USPA Headquarters at least 10 business days prior to the summer USPA Board of Directors meeting.
    6. Nominations for all non-USPA awards must be received at USPA Headquarters before the next upcoming USPA Board of Directors meeting.
    7. Previous nominations may be considered by the Membership Services Committee in future years without resubmission.
  2. Selection
    1. After a review of all nominees proposed, the Membership Services Committee will present to the full board a list of those nominees for which the board’s endorsement is requested.
    2. By a two-thirds majority and secret ballot in closed session, the USPA Board of Directors will select the candidates for the year being considered from those nominations presented by the committee.
    3. If the USPA Board approves nominations for NAA and/or FAI awards, the chair of the Membership Services Committee will forward appropriate letters of recommendation not later than the deadline imposed for the specific award, in support of each candidate endorsed by the USPA Board, together with necessary supporting documents and evidence to the National Aeronautic Association.
  3. Follow-up
    1. The chair will then follow up personally if necessary with each of the aviation organizations sponsoring the various national and international awards to ensure that USPA nominees are properly evaluated.
    2. Within 24 hours of the decision by the USPA Board of Directors to select or nominate a recipient, the President or his designee should notify the recipient of the board’s decision.
    3. Once notification is made, USPA Headquarters will make the decision public.
    4. The Chair of the USPA Membership Services Committee will compose or delegate an author for a suitable article to appear in Parachutist Magazine explaining the merits of the recipient and the reasons for the decision of the board.
    5. Headquarters should consult with the recipient on the time and venue for presentation of the award and it should be presented at an appropriate USPA event where many USPA members are likely to be present.
8-1.1: Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) General Awards

A. Paul Tissandier Diploma

  1. The Tissandier Diploma is awarded to those who have served the cause of aviation in general and sporting aviation in particular, by their work, initiative, devotion, or in other ways.
  2. Each year, the United States may submit the names of up to three candidates.

B. FAI Honorary Group Diploma

  1. As its name implies, the FAI Honorary Group Diploma may be awarded to groups of people (design offices, scientific bodies, aeronautical publications, etc.) that have contributed significantly to the progress of aeronautics or astronautics during the previous year or years.
  2. Each year, an FAI member may submit the names of two candidates, one for aeronautics and one for astronautics.

C. FAI parachuting awards

(FAI parachuting awards are subject to approval by the FAI Parachuting Commission.)

  1. The FAI Gold Parachuting Medal
    1. The FAI Gold Medal may be awarded annually for an outstanding accomplishment in connection with parachuting, in the realm of sport, safety, or an invention.
    2. The medal was created by an endowment fund provided by Mr. J.A. Istel, President of Honour of the FAI Parachuting Commission.
  2. The Leonardo da Vinci Diploma is awarded to a parachutist who has any one of the following:
    1. at least three times consecutively won a national overall championship title
    2. at least once won the world absolute individual parachuting championship and twice the title of combined champion (male or female) at a recognized international parachuting competition
    3. served twice as chief judge at a recognized international competition and at least once at a recognized world parachuting championships or served at least three times consecutively as an international judge at a recognized world parachuting championships
    4. established at least three world parachuting records
    5. served at least twice as meet director at a recognized international parachuting competition and at least once at a recognized world parachuting championship
    6. been nominated as honorary president of the International Parachuting Committee (IPC)
    7. served for at least ten consecutive years, including the current year, as a national delegate to the IPC
  3. The Faust Vrancic Medal is awarded for technical innovation or achievement in parachuting.
8-1.2: National Aeronautic Association (NAA)Service Awards

A. Frank G. Brewer Trophy

The NAA Brewer Trophy, awarded annually, is given to an individual, group or organization for significant contributions of enduring value to aerospace education in the United States.

B. Elder Statesman of Aviation

  1. The NAA Elder Statesman Award honors outstanding Americans who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics and have reflected credit upon America and themselves
  2. A nominee must
    1. be a citizen of the U.S who has for at least 15 years been actively identified with aeronautics
    2. be at least 60 years of age
    3. be well and favorably known as a person of ability and character
8-1.3: USPA Service Awards

A. USPA Lifetime Achievement Award

  1. Introduction
    1. Perhaps the most respected honor which is offered by the United States Parachute Association is the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award, which was originally conceived and created in 1970, as a result of an initial gift of $3,000 from an “Anonymous Donor.”
    2. The sum was eventually enlarged to a total of $30,000 over a period of years and the funds were placed on deposit with the National Aeronautic Association, which agreed to administer them on behalf of the United States Parachute Association, for the purpose of underwriting the cost of a variety of perpetual competition trophies, as well as the Achievement Award.
    3. The fund ceased to exist in 1982 when the final money available was used to construct the floor-to ceiling display cases at USPA’s Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
    4. The agreement signed on May 13, 1970, between Attorney John Kerr Wilson, acting for the “Anonymous Donor;” General Brooke E. Allen, Executive Director of the National Aeronautic Association, acting for the National Aeronautic Association; and Dr. Edward A. Fitch, president of the United States Parachute Association, acting for USPA, stipulates (among other things) that at any time on or after May 13, 1975, the “Anonymous Donor” may identify himself and direct that any and all awards created through his gift carry his name. To date the “Anonymous Donor” has not seen fit to exercise this privilege.
  2. Qualifications for the award: The May 13, 1970, agreement, as accepted by USPA, describes the award itself and the qualifications required of recipients, using this language:
    “To provide a bowl or other suitable trophy to be known initially as ‘The United States Parachute Association Achievement Award’ [renamed ‘USPA Lifetime Achievement Award’ in July, 2004], which shall be perpetual and will be awarded annually to an expert active or retired sport parachute jumper in recognition of outstanding sportsmanship, skill, or personal contribution to the sport of parachuting and the United States Parachute Association, its goals and purposes. The recipient of such award will be selected by the board of directors by a majority vote during a closed regular or special meeting. In the event a majority of the board of directors cannot agree upon a recipient of such award on account of a lack of preeminence of the sport parachutist in any one year, the award will be made at least once each two years. Such trophy will be kept permanently in an appropriate location to be determined by the board of directors.”
  3. Description of trophy
    1. The trophy itself is a sterling silver bowl, 15 inches in diameter, seated on an octagonal teakwood base which bears carved wooden replicas of the USPA emblem on four faces and sterling silver plates listing the names and qualifications of recipients of the award on the other four faces.
    2. Traditionally, each year the recipient receives a smaller, eight-inch diameter replica sterling-silver bowl as his or her personal possession.
  4. Other considerations
    1. Traditionally the award is made for the year prior to the year in which it is presented.
    2. While the deed of gift requires that the award be given only to an individual, in 1974, the presentation was made to the United States Army Parachute Team, which suggests that the language in the deed is usable more as a guideline than as a strict requirement.
    3. The Membership Services Committee and the board has usually regarded the statement, “In recognition of personal contribution to the United States Parachute Association, its goals and purposes” as an overriding requirement (i.e., achievements in sport parachuting unrelated to the United States Parachute Association would normally not be considered sufficient to qualify a recipient, lacking specific contributions to USPA).
    4. While the deed of gift states that the award must be made at least once every two years, neither in 1991 nor in 1992 was a recipient named, thereby again suggesting that this particular language serves more as a guideline than as a requirement.
    5. No current member of the USPA Board of Directors may be recommended for the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award during his or her term as a member of the board.
      1. In practice, this requirement has been extended to forbid a nomination for at least two full years after the end of board service.
      2. It is enlarged to include as ineligible current or former USPA employees, also until at least two years after their employment ends.

B. USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service

  1. Background
    1. The USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service was established on July 13, 1997, by the USPA Board of Directors.
    2. The award given to no more than three recipients per year, in the form of a struck brass medal which measures three inches in diameter, weighs approximately five ounces and is slotted at the top for attachment of a 30-inch gold fabric ribbon.
    3. For permanent display at USPA Headquarters is a large wooden plaque measuring two feet by four feet and adorned with an exact replica of the medal along with brass metal strips bearing the name and date of each recipient.
  2. Criteria for the award
    1. The USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service is to honor outstanding USPA members who, by their efforts over a period of years, have made significant contributions to the skydiving community.
    2. Each recipient must be or have been a USPA member and been active in sport parachuting for at least 20 years in the areas of, but not limited to judging, instruction, jumpmastering, camera (film and video), competition, and safety.
    3. No current member of the USPA Board of Directors may be considered for the award and no past member of the board of directors of USPA may be considered for the award until at least two years after retiring from the board.
    4. No current employee of USPA may be considered for the award and no past employee of USPA may be considered for the award until at least two years after leaving USPA employment.

C. USPA Regional Achievement Award

  1. Background
    1. Many outstanding individuals have contributed to the sport more on a local or regional level. To recognize the contribution of these individuals, the Board of Directors has created this award.
    2. The award is presented to no more than five recipients per year total, in the form of a certificate.
  2. Criteria for the award
    1. The USPA Regional Achievement Award is to honor an outstanding member of a USPA region who, by their efforts over a period of time or one outstanding act, has made a significant contribution to that region’s skydiving community.
    2. No current member of the USPA Board of Directors may be considered for the award and no past member of the Board of Directors of USPA may be considered for the award until they have been off the board for at least two years.
    3. No current employee of USPA may be considered for the award and no past employee of USPA may be considered for the award until at least two years after leaving USPA employment.

D. USPA Chesley H. Judy Safety Award

  1. Background
    1. A fund was established at USPA in 1997 to honor the memory of Ches Judy, former USPA Director of Safety and Training, killed in a skydiving plane crash two years earlier.
    2. Distribution of the fund was in abeyance pending the development of a suitable safety-related program.
  2. Purpose of the award
    1. In 2004, USPA developed a safety award to honor members who had promoted safety in our sport.
    2. The USPA Board determined that the new award was consistent with the original intent of the Ches Judy Safety Fund, so therefore designated the new award as the USPA Chesley H. Judy Safety Award.
  3. USPA Headquarters developed the certificate, which is available at no charge to each drop zone to honor the local USPA member who is most deserving of the award.
  4. The award is to be presented on USPA Safety Day in conjunction with the other planned activities for the annual event.
  5. Criteria for the award: The selection for the award recipient should be based on the previous year’s actions or accomplishments of any current USPA member who, through example, deed, training, or innovation, had promoted safe skydiving in a substantive way.
  6. Selection and administrative procedures
    1. The USPA Safety & Training Advisor in consultation with the drop zone owner selects one individual from the drop zone to which the award is appointed based on the above criteria.
    2. By February 15th, the S&TA requests a certificate from headquarters, either in writing (attention: Safety & Training), or by email to safety@uspa.org.
    3. The request should include the correctly spelled name of the recipient and the name of the drop zone.
    4. USPA will provide the completed certificate to the requesting S&TA for presentation during that year’s Safety Day activities.


8-1.4: Recipients of the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award

Note: In absent years, no award was presented.


8-1.5: Recipients of the USPA Gold Medal for Meritorious Service


8-2: Achievement Awards

A. Achievement awards for jump experience

  1. These two types of freefall awards are intended to provide a special kind of recognition to those United States Parachute Association members who have accumulated significant levels of experience in both number of freefall skydives and amount of freefall time.
  2. USPA proudly recognizes those members.

B. Cumulative jumps and freefall time

  1. Expert Wings are awarded for freefall jumps in 1,000-jump increments.
  2. Freefall Badges are awarded for freefall time in 12-hour increments.

C. General requirements

  1. To be eligible for any of these awards a person must:
    1. have completed the required number of freefall skydives or accumulated the required amount of freefall time
    2. have made each jump being presented as qualification in compliance with the USPA BSRs
    3. be a current USPA member at the time of application for the award
    4. be the holder of a current USPA C license or its accepted foreign equivalent
    5. have no record of a BSR violation on file with USPA
    6. have met the requirements of the previous award
  2. Logging:
    1. The applicant must present logbook evidence of the required number of freefall skydives or amount of freefall time for which the award is being made.
    2. For jumps made after December 31, 1987, each jump must be listed as a separate entry and contain at least:
      1. the jump number
      2. date
      3. location
      4. exit altitude
      5. freefall length
      6. type of jump (formation skydiving, accuracy, jumpmaster, photography, etc.)
      7. signatures of witnessing jumpers or pilots (encouraged but not required)
  3. Verification of the required number of freefall skydives or freefall time and other requirements will be made by:
    1. a USPA Regional or National Director
    2. a USPA administrative officer
    3. in case of hardship or extraordinary conditions, other persons deemed acceptable to USPA Headquarters or the USPA Board of Directors
  4. The verifying official will submit to USPA Headquarters a completed application verifying that the applicant has met all requirements.
  5. Upon receipt of the completed application, USPA Headquarters will issue the award as directed by the verifying official.
  6. All awards will be issued by USPA Headquarters in the order the qualified application is received.
  7. In the case of special circumstances or hardships, waiver of these requirements and procedures may be applied for through the USPA Board of Directors.

D. Presentation

  1. Because of the particular significance of the milestone represented by the award of Expert Wings and Freefall Badges, it is in the best interest of the United States Parachute Association and the sport of skydiving that these awards be presented to the recipient with appropriate ceremony and recognition.
  2. Except when not practical, these awards should be presented by a USPA National or Regional Director, to whom the award will normally be entrusted before presentation.
  3. It is also recommended and urged that all recipients of Expert Wings and Badges be publicized as widely as possible through skydiving publications and local news media.
  4. Whenever possible, a brief report and photograph of the presentation should be emailed to communications@uspa.org or mailed to:
    5401 Southpoint Centre Blvd.
    Fredericksburg, VA 22407


8-3: Performance awards

A. Awards for skydiving skill

The performance awards program is an international awards program of the United States Parachute Association.

  1. Canopy formation performance awards
    1. These awards recognize each applicant’s progression towards higher levels of canopy control, maneuverability, and proficiency.
    2. In receiving and exhibiting these awards, the recipient agrees to exercise good judgement and wisdom in promoting safe canopy relative work among his or her peers, among those less experienced than himself or herself, and toward observers of the sport.

B. Prerequisites

  1. Each applicant must be either a current USPA member or a member of another FAI Aero Club.
  2. Jumps used to qualify for these awards are to comply with the USPA Basic Safety Requirements.

C. Canopy award categories

  1. The 4-Stack Award is available for building a canopy formation of four or more canopies.
  2. The CCR (Canopy Crest Recipient) or 8-Stack Award is available for building a canopy formation of eight or more canopies.
  3. The CCS (Canopy Crest Solo) Award is available for entering eighth or later in a complete eight-canopy or larger formation.
  4. Night versions of each of these awards are available for those who have completed these formations at night.

D. Qualifications

  1. The formations completed for this award may come from the USPA Skydiver’s Competition Manual or may be other recognizable formations.
  2. All formations must be planned in advance.
  3. All participants must be in position and on grips for the formation to be considered complete.
  4. The completed formation must be held for a minimum of ten seconds.

E. Application

Send the completed application to:
USPA Headquarters
5401 Southpoint Centre Blvd.
Fredericksburg, VA 22407
or fax to (540) 604-9741 and include:

  1. the applicant’s name as it is to appear on official certificates
  2. the location of the jump: city, state, country (if not USA)
  3. diagram or name of each completed formation
  4. a list of the other participants (signatures not required)
  5. the date of the jump that qualified the applicant for the award
  6. the holding time for the formation
  7. the award applied for
  8. the appropriate fee for the award and any additional materials requested, such as decals, pins, or additional certificates


8-4: Membership Tenure Certificates

A. Tenure awards

  1. Membership tenure certificates are issued to acknowledge support of skydiving through membership in USPA for significant periods of time.
  2. USPA membership tenure certificates are issued at the completion of ten years of accumulated membership and at each five years thereafter.

B. Qualifications

  1. Computation of tenure:
    1. The ten-year certificate is issued when a full ten years of membership has been accumulated.
    2. In other words, the certificate is issued at the end of the tenth year of membership.
    3. Lapses in membership are subtracted from the total time of membership.
  2. Certificates are issued upon request either by submitting the information online through the USPA website, or by contacting the membership department at USPA Headquarters.


8-5: Sportsmanship Award

A. Ted Strong Award for Extraordinary Sportsmanship

  1. Established in 2012 to honor extraordinary sportsmanship displayed by teams or individuals at a USPA National Championships.
  2. Description of and criteria for this award are in the Skydiver's Competition Manual.

B. Recipients of the Ted Strong Award for Extraordinary Sportsmanship

  1. 2012 Jarrett Martin, D-28900
  2. 2014 Team "Spaceland Lite 8"
  3. 2018 John "Jack" Berke, D-5195