What it takes to make real change
Mike Meier <<Mike>>
You are correct, in this sense:
To effect change in USHPA policies you need to get down to the details.
You need to pull up the entire library of documents Bylaws, SOPs, etc. etc.
and then propose detailed, word-specific changes to those documents that will
effect the changes you want. Absent that level of detailed work, nothing can
change. And since the advent of the RRG and the involvement of PASA, this is
even more complicated, because what you can do may be limited by laws governing
such enterprises, and PASA is somewhat independent of USHPA. And so all of this
will be a tremendous amount of work for anyone to take on.
However, none of that work will be worth anything if there is not an atmosphere
of receptiveness within the USHPA bureaucracy. Despite paying lip service to the
existence of such an atmosphere, in truth it does not yet exist. The USHPA
Board, Executive Committee, Officers and Staff are all bright, capable people
with the best intentions. Despite that, all the evidence is that they are
screwing this up, and it seems that this is happening because they just dont
So talk, like what Steve has written, and like the confirmations by others of
the validity of what he has written, has real value, if it has the capacity to
get a conversation going and get those who are in a position to actually change
things to take another look at what theyre doing.
The trajectory of decline in hang gliding probably dates back as far as 1976.
Pat Denevan identified it before the USHPA Board as early as 1978, and I wrote
about it in 1985. There may be nothing that any of us can do about it. On the
other hand, there are stories of other similar sports, like Sky Diving, that
have come back from similar declines. From what I have heard, their national
association has a totally different approach than we do to how they interact
with their members and instructors.
Ive not been more than very peripherally involved in USHPA matters for 20
years, and although I have in the past spent many hundreds of hours on the kind
of detail specific work that is required to make real change, I am not willing
to do that at this time, and consequently I hesitate to comment. But speaking
out has value. I write to my representatives in congress, even though I am not
willing to draft the bills that would effect the change I want them to make.
Thank you for giving a forum to those who wish to speak.
We want Mike and Steve to concentrate on making great gliders, not
dealing with making changes at the USHPA. The problem is that sooner rather than
later Wills Wing won't have any customers for their gliders because there won't
be enough new students learning to hang glide.
It is in no one's specific interest to write up the detailed proposals that need
to come from the problems that Steve has indentified (and more). While Wills
Wing and other glider manufacturers would benefit from a strong USHPA that is
focused on developing new hang glider pilots, they have to focus on their
products. Existing pilots have their own concerns and are not inclined to do
that hard work that it takes to make massive changes in the direction of the
organization. The BOD meets twice a year. Even a slimmed down BOD is not going
to be focused on massive changes to the USHPA's direction. There's no one out
there who is willing to do that hard work.
Mike mentions the Skydiving Association (https://uspa.org/).
They saw the problem and completely turned their organization around and built
up their membership. We could, if we tried, follow their example.