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Balu's Reviews (10 reviews)

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One of the coolest places in the world!!!


Ground Rush Adventures Rated 5 by: Balu on 2009-12-04

Pros: Cool people, very good vibes, awesome view over the desert and the ocean
Cons: only the aircraft, but read the review for it

  Professionalism
  Vibe
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  Facilities
  Services
  Location
Ground Rush Adventures operates no longer from Swakopmund airport, but from an airstrip in the desert, which is a few kilometres northeast of Swakopmund. The drive takes about 15 minutes from Swakopmund city centre, where the office is. The office is at the Amanpuri Travellers Lodge, which offers double rooms with bathroom and breakfast for 700 Namib Dollars (65 Euros). The Amanpuri rooms are nice, but remember that skydivers may be loud in the evening, so if you like it quiet a B&B in the city might be the smarter choice. The bar is open until late.

At the dropzone you will find two small houses, one for manifest and the tandem instructions and one for packing. Cold drinks are provided for purchase, and two desert bathrooms for dumping the drinks later. It is all african style but well maintained and as clean as possible. Normally they operate a Cessna 206 which goes to 10000ft (3000m), but if a larger group is coming and let them know, a Caravan can be organized. Both aircraft were in a good shape and fitted for skydivers needs. The landing area is huge, you can land anywhere in the desert. The surface is dry, but mostly soft from the sand. Rigging service is provided at the office, and if the rigger is at the dropzone also there.

There are not many local jumpers in Swakopmund, and most of them work at the dropzone. However, if they are not jumping tandem or camera they enjoy funjumping with visitors, whether it is RW, freefly or Birdman. And one thing must be mentioned here: These guys are the coolest bunch of skydivers I ever met! Even in Eloy it is hard to find people, which are in such a good mood and so open-minded towards visitors. Jumping and going out to town with them was pure fun.

Overall, the dropzone has my absolute recommendation. Whenever you go to Namibia visit Swakopmund, and try to find some friends to join you to fill a Caravan.

(Review ID:5497)


Dropzone at the edge of paradise


Skydive Hawaii Rated 4 by: Balu on 2009-09-27

Pros: The scenery, friendly and helpful people and a comfortable caravan
Cons: Almost no fun jumpers, somestimes very windy, no rental gear

  Professionalism
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  Location
This time me and my wife were travelling to Hawaii, and it was absolutely clear that we won't miss the chance to do a skydive there. We decided to go to Skydive Hawaii, because a friend of us worked there for a few months some time ago.

The day after our arrival at Honolulu we drove to Skydive Hawaii, which is a one hour ride from Waikiki. On that day it was too windy for us to jump, but the staff took the chance to do all the paperwork with us, so that we would ready when we come back. On that day we were told that they have no rental gear available. Somebody from the staff granted a exception for us, but be aware that this is normally not possible. So, if you go there, BRING YOUR OWN GEAR! And come as early in the morning as possible. The dropzone starts at 8:00 a.m. and at this time normally the wind is calm. Later at afternoon it may become too windy, even if already have a couple hundred of jumps.

One week later we came back, early in the morning this time. We checked in for the first load, which was a caravan of 11, 2 tandems, one video, three local jumpers and the two of us. So we had a very comfortable ride in a small caravan up to 13.000 feet. The caravan provides benches and buckles, and bars inside and outside the door. Thanks to the very good briefing the landing pattern was easily flown, and we were able to identify the outside landing spots from the air. There are a couple of them, so even if you got a bad spot or misjudged the wind, don't worry about the landing. Best would probably the beach, which is 40-50m wide. The landing are itself is sized as larger than a football field.

Food and drinks are provided by a food truck at reasonable prices and quality. Packing is done outside but in the shadow. Packjobs are available for six dollars. The only not so good thing is the number of fun jumpers at Skydive Hawaii. When we were there it was not enough to fill a caravan, so you have to wait fr the next group of tandems to arrive, before the next load gets ready. I don't know if that changes between seasons, maybe you should check this first if you want to do many jumps.

My overall rating is a recommendation, because there are no serious drawbacks, as long as you keep in mind to bring your own gear, and don't consider waiting times a big factor.

(Review ID:5400)


Small but very friendly dropzone with great scenic view


Paraclub Hoevenen Rated 4 by: Balu on 2009-07-04

Pros: Friendly people, good prices, awesome view above the harbour area
Cons: Open only on weekends

  Professionalism
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  Location
Hoevenen is located close to Antwerp in northern Belgium. After leaving the highway it is just a short drive and then you are there. The people are friendly and it is easy to find someone who jumps with you. Even some wingsuiters are there :-) They jump out of a Cessna 206 SOLOY, which always climbs to 12000 feet (3600m). I have done five jumps a day without stress. If you do not need long briefings and just wanna jump, you can do even more. Do a solo as your first jump there, that gives you time to enjoy the view of the harbour are, which is really huuuuuge, and the northern sea. The whole airfield serves as a landing are, and there are also many fields in the vicinity that can be used. Just don't land at the harbour, it's dangerous because of the cranes and powerlines.

Baguettes and cooled soft drinks are available at low prices. Toilets are in a nearby restaurant. No showers and no bunkhouse. Hotel prices in that are in the european average.

Will I come back? Yes, from time to time, when I visit friends in Antwerp, I will take the opportunity to jump in Hoevenen again.

(Review ID:5225)


Really professionell dropzone open 7 days a week


Skydive-Center Spa Rated 5 by: Balu on 2009-07-04

Pros: The people, aircraft, Packing area, landing area, sanitary facilities
Cons: Nothing serious

  Professionalism
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  Location
Spa is located in southern Belgium and the dropzone is just ten minutes from the highway. It provides friendly staff, a Caravan, a huge packing hangar with a shop attached, free (!!!) bunk-rooms and showers. A restaurant is on the airfield, just a 2-minute walk away from the packing hangar. Best of all, Spa is open seven days a week, so you can jump a lot. The locals told that you can jump even more during weekdays, because on weekends it sometimes becomes a bit crowded with tandems. However, that does not mean you will do less than four jumps a day, even if you don't push it.

The manifest is very professional, as well as the pilots are. The landing area is huge. It has to be huge, because outside landings are not possible, because there is a big forest around the dropzone.

Will I come back? Definitely yes!

(Review ID:5224)


Well equipped and organized dropzone.


Skydive Westerwald Rated 4 by: Balu on 2009-06-22

Pros: People, aircraft, huge (!!!) landing area, indoor packing
Cons: midday break on sundays and holidays

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Skydive Westerwald is located in Breitscheid, 50km southeast of Cologne. The dropzone is open on weekends and three to four times a year for "jump-weeks". Sometimes the operation is relocated to Ailertchen, which is in the neighbourhood of Breitscheid. Check the calendar on the website before driving there, to make sure you go to the right place.

Breitscheid provides everthing a skydiver needs and wants. First of all nice people. Manifest works fine, and packing can be done indoor or outdoor, whatever you prefer. There is no rigging loft, but several riggers are in the club, so you will get assistance with your gear if you need it. There is no lounge, but a restaurant is at the airport. Showers and rooms for sleeping are provided and camping is allowed.

The Pilatus Porter almost always climbs up to 3800 metres. Though the dropzone is lying exactly under the Cologne inbound routing for IFR traffic, there are no problems with ATC. On a typical day you will find RW and Freefliers at Breitscheid, and sometimes even Birds are there. Whatever kind of jumper you are, you will find someone who likes to jump with you. The landing area is huge without obstacles. Don't fly south of the runway, this part is reserved for gliders, which do their part for co-operation.

Ticket prices are fair, and can be reduced by buying block-tickets.

The only Con is a midday-break between 12 and 2:30, which is held for noise abatement. This is very common in Germany, but there are still some dropzones which don't have it.

Overall I can say I like it, and although it is 110km away from my home, it is now my home drop-zone.

(Review ID:5192)


Nice dropzone with very friendly people


colibri skydive Rated 4 by: Balu on 2009-06-07

Pros: People, aircraft, rigging loft, shop
Cons: landing area can be difficult in strong winds

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I just came back from Skydive Colibri in Thalmässing and wish I would not have to work today. Being there was much more fun.

First thing to mention are the people. A friendly manifest, lots of friendly jumpers and a helpful rigging loft make Thalmässing a good drop zone. The Porter always goes up to 4000 metres. The packing area is big enough for one Porter load and is located in a hangar, so that you can pack in the shadow all the time.

The landing area is 1/2 mile off the dropzone and is a bit difficult to find on the first time. It three times as long as wide (ca. 200x70m), so it can be a bit difficult under strong wind conditions. Especially when the corn is high on the fields aside. Better go there and watch some landings before you do your first jump.

The shop is well equipped to fulfill all your needs. You can get the cool Bird-Man clothes there.

You get to Thalmässing via the Autobahn A9. From exit Thalmässing you have to drive ten minutes, then you are there. Camping is possible, but there are also some low priced hotels nearby (check the homepage www.freifallen.de). A TV in the lounge allows to banish the boredom on rainy days. The toilets and showers are in average condition and located in a container.

Overall, the lounge and the bathrooms could be a bit more comfortable, all the rest is very good. Will I go back to Thalmässing? Definitely yes!

(Review ID:5162)


Good, better, Paracentro


Para Centro Locarno Rated 5 by: Balu on 2009-05-21

Pros: Scenery, aircraft, manifest organization, facilities
Cons: none

  Professionalism
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  Location
On a short stop on a journey from Italy to Germany we visited Paracentro Locarno. After a friendly welcome we got the opportunity to do three of the most remarkable jumps in our skydiving careers so far. The scenery is simply stunning. If you don't believe it check it in Google Earth. The aircraft climb alongside high mountains, which are snow covered on the top. Freefall offers you a great view over the mountain world of the Swiss Alps and the beauty of Lago Maggiore between them. Make a solo first to get your time for watching this!

The excellent manifest organization, combined with two Porters, allows lots of jumps on a day. The dropzone is open six days a week and the planes don't need to be full. Eight jumpers are enough to take-off, and with students even very comfortable loads with seven on-board are done. The shop is nice and well-equipped, the outside facilities are very good and, most surprising after visiting so many dropzones, the toilets are also five-star.

(Review ID:5124)


Very good place for skydiving in Italy


Body Fly University - B.F.U. Rated 5 by: Balu on 2009-05-17

Pros: Friendly people, two turbine aircraft, excellent italian food, landing area, packing hangar
Cons: Only open on weekends

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The dropzone of Reggio 'nell Emilia is easy to access. Just leave the A1 where aeroporto is on the signs and you are right there. We've been there on a weekday first, and sadly we had to realize that the dropzone is open only on weekends. But this is normal in Italy, as in most parts of Europe. However, on the following weekend we received a warm welcome at the Manifest, and so it went on. The friendliness of the Staff and the jumpers is simply great. Whatever you ask or need, they will help you or find somebody who can help you. The introduction into the landing area and procedures could have been a bit more extensive, but for our experience level it was okay. However, someone less experienced may not have some of our questions in mind.

Reggio has three aircraft, one Pilatus Porter, one Turbo-Finist and one C206. When we've been there only the Porter was used, but when more jumpers are present they also put the Turbo-Finist into service. So the capacity is good for lots of jumpers. The spotting by the pilot was always excellent, nobody had an outside landing as long as we had been there. The landing area itself is huge. The runway is about 1300m long, and you can land on either side on the grass. The boarding calls were handled in a relaxed manner, which I suppose to be Italian style. That means zero minutes to boarding is more like two minutes. Not a problem, just a bit irritating for people not from Italy. However, we got used to it quickly.

The packing hangar is large enough to allow approximately 20 jumpers to pack at the same time. The bar is nice, with good italian food for fair prices. The pool is really big with clear water. Nice! The toilets and showers are the only minor point of critique. As on always any dropzone they could be a bit less rudimentary. However, they were clean enough and I visited Reggio for jumping, not for the toilets. I did not sleep in the bunkhouse, but had a look into it. No problems there, many beds and very clean. As in any other bunkhouse around the world you don't have much privacy. If you want that, there are nearby hotels at fair prices.

As a conclusion I can definitely say, that Reggio is on my Top-Five-list (and I travel a lot). Check the dates for Boogies if you want to jump a lot, then the dropzone is also open during the week. If you have a vacation in Italy, and just want to jump a bit, plan for a weekend.

(Review ID:5112)


Small dropzone mainly for tandems and school


Mainbullau / Fallschirmsportzentrum Odenwald Rated 3 by: Balu on 2008-04-05

Pros: Good for Beginners, excelllent coaching!
Cons: Only one small cessna

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Mainbullau is located near Miltenberg, in the southern part of the "Spessart"-region on top of a hill. I did my S/L-training there in 2003.

Pros:
The staff is very friendly, and the atmosphere is famillial, like on other small dropzones. In the summertime they often have Apres-Skydive-Barbecues. Coaching is excellent. The instructor is very experienced, holding some World-Record-Titles in CRW, and has taken part in several Big-Way-Records. The landing area is huge with a covered packing area aside. Snacks and drinks are offered at the bar for reasonable prices.

Cons:
First: the german weather. Second: the airplane. Having lots of tandems on the weekend means you have to wait up to two hours for your next jump. Third: Low altitudes because the dropzone is on a hill. Normally 2700ms (9000ft).

Conclusion: Good for initial training and occasional fun jumps. Bad for regular jumps and team training.

(Review ID:4440)


Excellent aircraft, the rest is average, toilets poor


Skydive Spain Rated 3 by: Balu on 2008-04-03

Pros: DO 28, cheap and good coffee
Cons: Toilets and showers, surface of landing area

  Professionalism
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I went to Skydive Spain in March 2008 with a group of 15 german skydivers. We 've been there for one week, and that is my personal review:

Pros:
The DO 28 always dropped from 15.000ft(4600m), and is climbing extremely quick! The staff was friendly and gave us every assistance we needed. The landing area is huge, but also has some cons (see below). The packing area is big enough, and has a shop aside. The bar offers reasonably priced snacks, meals and drinks. The weather in southern Spain is generally good, but sometimes windy. On several occasions a jump number limit between 100 and 500 was imposed.

Cons:
The landing area has a hard dry surface with some obstacles. Large stones, a big metal arrow showing the landing direction and a ditch through the middle of the landing area. Some rules for canopy flying are not valid for everyone. Some people get crapped on flying right turns before landing, some skygods don't! Even though they have two airplanes, only one was flying. That meant we had to wait for up to two hours for the next load. Accesibility is okay, but the last 3km are on a bumpy dirt track. Last but not least: Only a earthquake is worse than the toilets and showers! I know that skydivers are not very demanding on that, but these toilets are definitely below every standard. "Cleaned on a daily basis" seems to mean, that once a day somebody spills a bit of toilet cleaner inside and that was it.

Conclusion: Not too bad, but also not convincing. I will try another dropzone next time.

(Review ID:4437)