These are "Reports from the Newsstand," my comments on the publications in our catalogue at We offer sample copies of our publications, not subscriptions. Each sample copy costs $2.59, well below newsstand cover prices (if the publication is available on your newsstand at all). A $2.00 shipping charge is added to each order. Publishers use to get their publications into the hands of potential subscribers.


Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

SKYDIVING: Ups and Downs of the Sport

Skydiving is a monthly from DeLand, Florida that describes itself as "parachuting's newsmagazine." It's all of that and a fascinating read, even for stay-solidly-on-the-ground types.

Sports parachuting provides many opportunities for great photographs, and Skydiving often utilizes striking cover graphics very effectively. An example is the new February issue, which shows jumpers tumbling from the open tail hatch of a DC-9 jetliner under the very blue sky of Southern California. The camera was positioned just underneath the open hatch.

The accompanying story is about how the 88-passenger jet, 37 years old, finally received FAA approval to be used for mass jumps. Said the co-owner of the plane, "It takes 30 minutes to do it [remove the tail hatch]―and three and a half years of paperwork to allow it."

Skydiving is a big and growing business, and the magazine serves both the individual sports jumper and the industry.

The most profitable part of the parachuting industry seems to be tandem jumping, in which a novice jumps with an experienced instructor who wears and controls the parachute. Usually another staff jumper, equipped with a video camera, records the jump as a memento for the newbie. This operation can bring in hundreds of dollars per jump, much more profitable that the $50 or $60 per jump that parachute centers charge for taking solo parachutists up.

After many years of fatality-free tandem jumping, the industry suffered two student deaths, one in October 2005 in Georgia and another in May 2006 in Ohio. To the horror of their instructors, both students fell out of their harnesses and plummeted to earth. The two fatalities have caused much soul-searching in the parachuting industry. It's important to note that both deceased students were "special situations": one was a wheelchair-bound man with little leg strength, the other a 230-pound woman.

This issue of Skydiving contains a long and thoughtful essay by tandem instructor Tom Noonan about the two incidents and a number of "near misses" that have been reported―and the many more incidents that were never reported and maybe even covered up. Noonan blames a new generation of blasé, sometimes bored tandem instructors trying more exciting maneuvers for their own entertainment or ignoring established procedures. A touch of drama is added when an instructor involved in one of the fatal accidents responds to Noonan's arguments.

Death and danger are ever-present subtexts in any article about sport parachuting. The issue contains a report about the "Holiday Boogie," a gathering of enthusiasts in Eloy, Arizona during the last week in December that drew more than 500 jumpers who made 9,524 jumps. The story details a variety of injuries and two fatalities during the week.

There's also a long article about a jumper-friendly bridge over the Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho. Launching yourself into the air from land-attached objects is called "BASE jumping," an acronym for the four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: Building, Antenna, Span (such as a bridge or arch) and Earth (cliff, etc.).

I enjoyed the article's advice not to linger on the bridge railing, which might upset passing motorists. Also, you should advise the cops that you'll be jumping that afternoon so that when motorists excitedly call from their cell phones about the suicide they just witnessed, the authorities can relax.

We'll end this review with a sweet quotation about the sport from jumper Bill Leonard of Dallas, as reported in Skydiving: "Once you jump, you never look at the sky the same way again. After all, to be touched by a cloud is to be kissed by an angel."

An annual subscription to Skydiving (12 issues) is $16.00 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

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Blogger Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a Super cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

The Snake River

10:13 AM  

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