Parachuting, which has been around since the Middle Ages, was practiced as a sport as far back as the 1800s and actually predates most other air sports. "Skydiving," a term credited to jumper Raymond Young in the late 1950s, gained a strong following after World War II, when former paratroopers started jumping for fun, not just as part of military operations. The sport has progressed from a single person jumping on his own, competing in freefall aerobatics and accuracy landings, to the point that records are being set by hundreds of people in freefall formation, dozens of people joining under open parachute, and skydivers competing around the world in a half-dozen sanctioned disciplines.
The U.S. parachute Association (USPA) gained its current name in 1967, although it has been around in some form since 1946. USPA promotes the sport of skydiving (limited to jumps from aircraft in flight) and represents individual skydivers and "drop zones," or skydiving centers. It also serves as the cornerstone for self-regulation of the sport.
NAA has been supporting the efforts of USPA since its early days. In 1956, NAA raised $25,000 to send a parachuting team to Moscow for the Third World Championship of Parachuting. Together, NAA and USPA foster and promote the sport of skydiving by certifying records and aiding skydiving competitions.
US Parachute Association website: www.uspa.org