The U.S. Parachute Association has bestowed its highest honor, the USPA Lifetime Achievement Award, to Chris Needels, former executive director of the association. USPA, a non-profit organization that promotes safe skydiving nationwide and represents the sport before the aviation industry, awards the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding sportsmanship, skill or personal contribution to the sport of parachuting and USPA.
Needels has steadily contributed to the growth and prosperity of USPA, which now boasts more than 32,000 skydiving members, since he first joined the Parachute Club of America (USPA’s forerunner) in August 1963. A former commander of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, Needels began his six-year tenure on the PCA Board of Directors as a national director in 1975, serving as the board’s vice president, as well as chairman of several committees.
He became USPA Executive Director in June 1994 and led USPA’s growth and enhanced its image in the aviation community to a level unparalleled in the association’s history. Needels retired in December 2007 after almost 14 years as the chief operating officer and after acting as the driving force behind relocating USPA to a new headquarters in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Now USPA Executive Director Emeritus, Needels continues to serve the skydiving community as a board trustee for the National Skydiving Museum.
This past February, the USPA Board unanimously voted to honor Needels with USPA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, “for almost a half-century of total commitment to USPA as a board member, officer, executive director and skydiving museum trustee, providing unparalleled leadership, vision and lasting stability.”
Needels will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at a special ceremony the evening of July 16 at the conclusion of the USPA General Membership Meeting at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire.