USHPA Power Harness Situation
The following message is from Bruce Decker, a FLPHG pilot who spent
significant time and effort in advocating for the inclusion of Power Harnesses
in the USHPA organization.
I worked quite hard on this issue with the USHPA. I felt that the
facts were compelling that that a reasoned analysis would cause the
USHPA to include power harnesses. I was a bit wrong and perhaps a lot
Politics rather than facts and business reason seems to be guiding
decision making of the USHPA. The current President, Lisa Tate, is
very much against power harness inclusion an she has used her position
to advocate against the inclusion of power harnesses.
In the past, the USHPA members voted to include power harnesses. This
upset a vocal minority of pilots within the USHPA that used threats of
lawsuits to hijack the democratic process. The lead to the
invalidation of the membership vote. The President of the Association
chose to appoint a committee of hand-selected members rather than
allow the issue to be taken again before the membership. Her
committee was advertised to a be group of unbiased professionals that
would collect the facts, answer questions and make a recommendation to
The resulting report was full of factual errors. In fact, even the
Executive Director of the USHPA felt compelled to go on record that
information being presented as 'fact' by this committee was seriously
in error. When she stood at the Board Meeting and attempted to
correct the factual errors, she was verbally accosted by one of the
anti-power advocate board members, Bill Bolosky.
The committee and the President of the association prevailed and the
board approved the committee recommendation (not unanimous). All
harnesses, even the scheduled ones, may have been removed from the
schedule of supporter power harnesses. I have not observed any
official statement from the USHPA regarding this change of policy.
I'm told that issue will not be brought before the membership for a
re-vote. In doing so, it would likely be approved and that is
something that the President of the Association is clearly not willing
to risk. The President and her committee have demonstraated active
disinterest in the wishes or will of the membership. They have their
view of how the organization should be run and that is pretty much
the end of it.
There is another organization that may be willing to accept power
harness pilots. I am in contact with them and when and if they have
anything to offer, I'll be letting everyone know.
Also, it's very possible that if you have homeowners insurance, it may
have a personal liability components that will cover you for damage
done while participating in 'recreational activities'. This would be
very much like the type of coverage you get with a USHPA membership
policy. Each policy is different. Check with your agent for more
information about your policy.
The USHPA board honestly doesn't care too much about the whole power
harness issue. They seem to be content to accept the direction set by
the president and didn't rally to support the executive director when
she raised her concerns about the content of the committee's report.
Many of the board members knew that the vital 'facts' being
conveyed by the committee were in error and they did nothing to reject
the report. They share as much responsibility for this decision as the
President who engineered the committee. This leads me to conclude that
the USHPA is not in touch with its membership and will continue to pursue
policies that are unwelcoming of power harness pilots.
With third party liability coverage completely gone, each power
harness pilot will need to decide for him/herself whether continued
membership in the USHPA is beneficial. Certainly, if a power harness
pilot also flies unpowered at USHPA insured sites, membership may be a
requirement and therefore there is a direct benefit. Aside from that,
a pilot would have to perceive some direct, indirect or altruistic
benefit (isn't that an oxymoron?).
For me, I've given a lot of time an effort into fact finding only to
have these facts ignored. I won't be investing any more of my time or
effort into non-productive dialog with the USHPA. If the leadership
of the organization changes, I may re-engage at a later time.
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