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ColoradoJones

How long should it take to get on a load?

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Im a student doing IAD and I waited for 4 hours today and never got on a load.  Two planes (a 182 and a 206), each went up 4 times, packed full (they were organizing the 5th load for each plane when i said enough was enough and left) .... and I wasn't on one.  I kept getting the "you will be on the next load" line and it just never happened (with two packed student rigs hanging on the wall).  Is it normal for students to constantly get dropped to the back of the load or do I have a legit reason to be upset with the DZ?  It seems to me like its, at the least, crap customer service to let a paying customer (I paid for all my A license courses in full with cash) just sit and wait and wait and wait while you are constantly asking for any fun jumper to make a full load.

 

How should i handle this?  I wasted $140 on a baby sitter to watch my kids while i sat at a DZ 50 minutes away to get passed over for walk-in tandems. 

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wow!

I think students have the highest priority to use rental rigs and get into loads at least in my home dz! and we have only one 182! Although I remember I waited 6h to jump in my AFF and it was bcs of the wind! and I was happy that my instructor really cares about my safety.

"(I paid for all my A license courses in full with cash)" > It could be the reason they don't care about you! you already paid. Talk to DZO and explain the situation. Ask for a refund if it didn't go well. 

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6 minutes ago, ColoradoJones said:

Im a student doing IAD and I waited for 4 hours today and never got on a load.  Two planes (a 182 and a 206), each went up 4 times, packed full (they were organizing the 5th load for each plane when i said enough was enough and left) .... and I wasn't on one.  I kept getting the "you will be on the next load" line and it just never happened (with two packed student rigs hanging on the wall).  Is it normal for students to constantly get dropped to the back of the load or do I have a legit reason to be upset with the DZ?  It seems to me like its, at the least, crap customer service to let a paying customer (I paid for all my A license courses in full with cash) just sit and wait and wait and wait while you are constantly asking for any fun jumper to make a full load.

 

How should i handle this?  I wasted $140 on a baby sitter to watch my kids while i sat at a DZ 50 minutes away to get passed over for walk-in tandems. 

You need to sit down and discuss this with the DZO. Some operators will understand your point. Especially since you prepaid in good faith. A good operator should listen to your story, apologize and offer you something to make it up. DZs and instructors make their living mostly from tandems, and experienced jumpers know which DZs to avoid or what times to avoid. I know there are operators who will think nothing of doing this to you. They are out there and I have met them. If this has happened to you and you have no other options because you prepaid you are probably in for a world of frustration. Is it normal? Unfortunately it is in some places. If a frank discussion does not result in a reasonable answer I would ask for my money back. But if they are the kind of place that will not give you a firm commitment they will probably strong resist refunding you.

Let us know how it turns out. And if it turns out badly don't be shy about telling us where it happened.

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5 minutes ago, ghostdog said:

wow!

I think students have the highest priority to use rental rigs and get into loads at least in my home dz! and we have only one 182! Although I remember I waited 6h to jump in my AFF and it was bcs of the wind! and I was happy that my instructor really cares about my safety.

"(I paid for all my A license courses in full with cash)" > It could be the reason they don't care about you! you already paid. Talk to DZO and explain the situation. Ask for a refund if it didn't go well. 

thats what i was thinking too.  It saved me $400 by paying up front, but im not sure the savings were worth the trade off if they are bumping me for walk-ins.  It was dead calm all day, blue skies, great weather until just before I left.  It started to gust a bit, clouds came in, and it started raining within 15 minutes of me leaving (driving toward the weather at 75 mph).

 

I definitely feel like i got shafted today.  I will call and discuss and mention that i feel like paying up front was a mistake ... ill see if that changes anything.

 

Thanks for your reply.

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1 minute ago, gowlerk said:

You need to sit down and discuss this with the DZO. Some operators will understand your point. Especially since you prepaid in good faith. A good operator should listen to your story, apologize and offer you something to make it up. DZs and instructors make their living mostly from tandems, and experienced jumpers know which DZs to avoid or what times to avoid. I know there are operators who will think nothing of doing this to you. They are out there and I have met them. If this has happened to you and you have no other options because you prepaid you are probably in for a world of frustration. Is it normal? Unfortunately it is in some places. If a frank discussion does not result in a reasonable answer I would ask for my money back. But if they are the kind of place that will not give you a firm commitment they will probably strong resist refunding you.

Let us know how it turns out. And if it turns out badly don't be shy about telling us where it happened.

I will discuss with them.  I hope this is a one time thing.  All the other times i have been there ( which have been slow days) they were super eager to get me and my friend in the air and they were always pushing us for "lets try to get another jump in and keep the momentum".  But today was like i wasnt even there, even after asking twice about getting on a load.  Its a smaller dz, so im sure a refund will be a fight.  

Thanks for your reply.  I appreciate it. 

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I would say most likely they felt a lot of pressure to make tandem hay while the sun was shining. Pushing you to jump more when it is slow could be another bad sign, or it could be just encouraging you. It's really hard to know. Be aware that DZs do need to give tandems a large amount of priority. But students can only be neglected so much. The experienced jumpers? They already know that the priority is Tandems, or and other first jumps, students, and lastly the lowly ticket holding licensed jumper. If the DZ community is strong then it is worth being patient.

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23 minutes ago, ColoradoJones said:

How should i handle this?  I wasted $140 on a baby sitter to watch my kids while i sat at a DZ 50 minutes away to get passed over for walk-in tandems. 

It's called a tandem factory.  They mostly prioritized tandems over students.  They still should have gotten you on a flight.  Also keep in mind the weather is warming up which means more tandems.  Being a student sucks in general.  Fight for limited instructors especially if there is big money tandems showing up.

If you can try to find a DZ with an otter or caravan.  Those can really crank out jumpers compared to the smaller cessnas.

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(edited)
9 minutes ago, kat00 said:

It's called a tandem factory.  They mostly prioritized tandems over students.  They still should have gotten you on a flight.  Also keep in mind the weather is warming up which means more tandems.  Being a student sucks in general.  Fight for limited instructors especially if there is big money tandems showing up.

If you can try to find a DZ with an otter or caravan.  Those can really crank out jumpers compared to the smaller cessnas.

There are not a lot of DZs here, only two that are possible for me really.  I did my tandem at the 'other' one (two or three twin otters) and knew immediately i did NOT want to do my student jumps there, it was a total tandem factory and the office management was absolutely horrendous.  I own a small business and i would NEVER talk like they did in front of or treat my customers the way the 'other' place treated me.  

 

So i chose this current DZ to do my student jumps after visiting and asking all the questions.  I even spent 3-4 hours there with my family to see how they were organizing jumps and how smooth the operation was.  It was all great until today ... today seemed out of character for them, and i wanted opinions (read: validation for my feelings) before i spoke with them about it.  

Edited by ColoradoJones
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1 minute ago, ColoradoJones said:

There are not a lot of DZs here, only two that are possible for me really. 

As a partner in a small market 2 C-182 DZ I can easily see both sides of this issue. I've been on both sides. Some DZs will consider that waiting 4 or 5 hours is pretty normal on some days. As a senior jumper I would not be surprised or upset. If the tandems were truly walk ons though and not bookings, I would have put you higher. Also, if they were expecting you because you called to check and make sure about bookings, and they sold you a package, they owe you some priority.

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23 minutes ago, gowlerk said:

As a partner in a small market 2 C-182 DZ I can easily see both sides of this issue. I've been on both sides. Some DZs will consider that waiting 4 or 5 hours is pretty normal on some days. As a senior jumper I would not be surprised or upset. If the tandems were truly walk ons though and not bookings, I would have put you higher. Also, if they were expecting you because you called to check and make sure about bookings, and they sold you a package, they owe you some priority.

I always call and make sure I am good to jump.  Especially since they are a small DZ and they schedule their instructors day by day.  They are not staffed 24/7.  If they dont have any pre-bookings for a particular day, they simply dont open. 

That is why i wanted to make a thread and get the opinions of experience jumpers, to see if this is a normal thing that i just have to suck up and deal with, or if this is out of character.  I didnt want to have a conversation with the DZO and seem like a prima-donna, thus hurting my relationship with them if waiting 4 hours is normal.  It just frustrated me that they were calling out in the packing area, asking for any fun jumpers to fill seats, while i sat there patiently waiting.

Thank you for your opinions, I will take it to heart and have a frank but respectful conversation with the DZ.

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46 minutes ago, ColoradoJones said:

It just frustrated me that they were calling out in the packing area, asking for any fun jumpers to fill seats, while i sat there patiently waiting.

Depending where you are in your progression, that might not be something you should worry about. If you're still jumping with an instructor and one isn't available at the moment, and/or you have yet to be trained for your next jump, then that doesn't really affect you, they're just looking for an up-jumper who can make a quick call. But if you're cleared for solo's and wind/weather isn't a factor, then yes you  should be offered one of those slots. The same for there being student rigs packed and hanging on the wall, that's not really the factor, it's whether there is an instructor available.

I understand your being frustrated, but it sounds like this wasn't your normal experience with them. Unfortunately, they often favor the walk-in tandems because they don't want those people steering their friends to the other dz. You should have said something before you left, and you should definitely talk to the dzo about it. Don't be confrontational, just express your frustration with the situation and see what they have to say.

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2 hours ago, dudeman17 said:

Depending where you are in your progression, that might not be something you should worry about. If you're still jumping with an instructor and one isn't available at the moment, and/or you have yet to be trained for your next jump, then that doesn't really affect you, they're just looking for an up-jumper who can make a quick call. But if you're cleared for solo's and wind/weather isn't a factor, then yes you  should be offered one of those slots. The same for there being student rigs packed and hanging on the wall, that's not really the factor, it's whether there is an instructor available.

I understand your being frustrated, but it sounds like this wasn't your normal experience with them. Unfortunately, they often favor the walk-in tandems because they don't want those people steering their friends to the other dz. You should have said something before you left, and you should definitely talk to the dzo about it. Don't be confrontational, just express your frustration with the situation and see what they have to say.

i get what you are saying, but i called before hand to make sure there would be an instructor for me (I am still jumping with an instructor) ... and i was told yes.  Then i spoke with the DZO multiple times throughout the day about getting on a load and was told multiple times "next load".  

at some point, I have communicated enough and I feel like the responsibility is on the DZO to actually put me on a plane.  They have sent me up by myself before, so i feel like it should have been relatively easy to do so.  Not only that, I work at a college and have had discussions with them about using them as the home DZ for the skydiving club I am starting ... so at what point do those tandems outweigh the potential college students I will bring in, every year?  

I just dont feel like this particular situation is one that should be 'sucked up' ... and that feeling seems to be echoed by other replies here as well. 

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Hmm that's a bummer that happened man. Great DZ though, I've made a jump there. Chill and a great atmosphere for jumping and very good people too.

I'm thinking there may have been circumstances you may not have known about behind the scenes going on there. Not sure if you updated you profile yet but says you are on your 3rd jump so I assume this was your 4th. Did you actually meet and get to talk to your instructor? Instead of talking to the DZO try the instructor instead and you will have better luck. DZO has to fill loads to keep the pilot flying at small DZ especially if they have 2 planes going at the same.

Anyway that's my suggestion. I'm suspecting though that quite possibly your instructor maybe wasn't there. Or (worst case scenario) the DZO called an instructor out just for you...the student....you left....the instructor shows up......no student.....and yeah not good.

Its a good vibe out there and in the skydiving world and yeah i'm sure you realize this is a way different world than other or at least you should soon. Students always get frustrated and come and go at every DZ cause of weather, rigs, stafffing, etc. Its the ones that keep coming back that actually become skydivers. Leaving unannounced sorry but I see your frustration but that's just not cool.

Keep trying and keep coming back and don't get too frustrated.

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Yeah, don't just suck it up. Talk to the dzo and find out what the deal is.  Even if there is other factors they should be honest with you.  I don't blame you for leaving.  Yes, being a student can be frustrating, but being essentially ignored shouldn't be one of those frustrations.

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Again, I get your frustration and wasn't implying that you should just suck it up. I was mainly addressing a particular thing you said, and trying to give you a few other ideas as to why that may have happened. But to be sure, if you called to make a reservation and were told that there would be an instructor for you, then one should have been assigned to you. Definitely talk to someone. The dzo may have a lot of other stuff on his plate, the instructors deal with the students they're assigned to, so ideally if there's a school manager between them, that would be the person.

Something else you said, though...  You said that you're still jumping with an instructor, but then you said that they have sent you up by yourself before. That doesn't make sense. If you're just a couple jumps in and still under the direct supervision of an instructor, they shouldn't be sending you up by yourself. Could you elaborate on that?

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1 hour ago, dudeman17 said:

Again, I get your frustration and wasn't implying that you should just suck it up. I was mainly addressing a particular thing you said, and trying to give you a few other ideas as to why that may have happened. But to be sure, if you called to make a reservation and were told that there would be an instructor for you, then one should have been assigned to you. Definitely talk to someone. The dzo may have a lot of other stuff on his plate, the instructors deal with the students they're assigned to, so ideally if there's a school manager between them, that would be the person.

Something else you said, though...  You said that you're still jumping with an instructor, but then you said that they have sent you up by yourself before. That doesn't make sense. If you're just a couple jumps in and still under the direct supervision of an instructor, they shouldn't be sending you up by yourself. Could you elaborate on that?

i meant they have just put me and my instructor up on hop and pops before when they had others waiting for full altitude jumps.  yesterday however, that was not the case.  

 

But again, the purpose of this thread was to ascertain whether or not I had a legitimate expectation before i spoke to them.  

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5 hours ago, spdFlyer said:

Yeah, don't just suck it up. Talk to the dzo and find out what the deal is.  Even if there is other factors they should be honest with you.  I don't blame you for leaving.  Yes, being a student can be frustrating, but being essentially ignored shouldn't be one of those frustrations.

Thats kind of where my thoughts are.  I fully understand with a small DZ with a small staff on a busy day that things wont go as planned.  

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16 hours ago, gunsmokex said:

Hmm that's a bummer that happened man. Great DZ though, I've made a jump there. Chill and a great atmosphere for jumping and very good people too.

I'm thinking there may have been circumstances you may not have known about behind the scenes going on there. Not sure if you updated you profile yet but says you are on your 3rd jump so I assume this was your 4th. Did you actually meet and get to talk to your instructor? Instead of talking to the DZO try the instructor instead and you will have better luck. DZO has to fill loads to keep the pilot flying at small DZ especially if they have 2 planes going at the same.

Anyway that's my suggestion. I'm suspecting though that quite possibly your instructor maybe wasn't there. Or (worst case scenario) the DZO called an instructor out just for you...the student....you left....the instructor shows up......no student.....and yeah not good.

Its a good vibe out there and in the skydiving world and yeah i'm sure you realize this is a way different world than other or at least you should soon. Students always get frustrated and come and go at every DZ cause of weather, rigs, stafffing, etc. Its the ones that keep coming back that actually become skydivers. Leaving unannounced sorry but I see your frustration but that's just not cool.

Keep trying and keep coming back and don't get too frustrated.

I do like the DZ and this is the first issue i have had with them ... i do not regret giving them my business.  I was just trying to ascertain from the more experienced crowd whether or not i had a valid grievance before i went to the DZ with it.

I called an hour before and spent just over 4 hours there before i left .... so i feel like there was plenty of time to get an instructor there or tell me "hey, your coach wont be here until suchandsuch time ... is that cool?"

Weather and lack of gear is one thing to me, and i get it.  When i started i was sharing a single rig with another person and we took turns, so im fine with that.  Its Colorado and the weather (wind especially) happens, the DZ has no control over that.

I get that leaving unannounced may not be cool .... but at the same stroke, neither is having me wait for 4 hours with no communication on when im getting up or just saying "hey, its not happening today".  Communication and respect are both two way streets.

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It seems to me like its, at the least, crap customer service to let a paying customer (I paid for all my A license courses in full with cash) just sit and wait and wait and wait while you are constantly asking for any fun jumper to make a full load.

. . .

i meant they have just put me and my instructor up on hop and pops before when they had others waiting for full altitude jumps.  yesterday however, that was not the case.

Purely as to this part, it sounds like there was just one slot left on the plane, so they were seeing if they could fill it with a fun jumper.  But they couldn't put you on the plane, because you essentially need two slots (you and an instructor).  So that part doesn't seem wrong to me.

But having you sit around for four hours, and being consistently told "next load" only to have that not be true, that part definitely seems wrong to me.  I hope you're able to get a satisfactory explanation (and/or some compensation) from the DZ.

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A few thoughts:

How many other students are there? Lots? A couple? Are they having the same experiences?

How many newer jumpers (students who got licensed last year)? Did they go through anything similar?

 

Don't forget that tandems are a big source of income. Without them, a lot of DZs simply close. So, for early in the season, bumping students to bring in a bunch of cash that is probably short right now is somewhat understandable. 

But I agree that the 'next load' thing is really frustrating and, IMO, wrong. If, as I noted above, they were putting out all the tandems they could to generate cash flow to get the season going, they should have told you so. 
If they knew (or even could make a reasonable guess) that it was going to be that sort of day, I would think they should have told you so when you called before you came out.
Something like: "It's going to be really busy today. We have a bunch of tandems scheduled, and we are likely to get some walk ons. We want to take those first, so you may get bumped a few times before you can get up. You may not even get up at all." 
Sure, that's going to be 'un-fun' news, both to give and to receive. But that would have let you know the situation before you got the sitter, drove out, sat there, ect.

Some people don't like to do that. Some DZOs don't want to tell people not to come out. Some people simply don't like telling bad news. 
Personally, I would rather both hear or tell 'less than great' truths than 'comfortable lies' (both before you headed out and while you were sitting). 

I would suggest talking to the 'chief instructor' (if there is such a person) or the DZO. 
It sounds like this is really your only choice nearby, so try not to 'burn bridges' when you do so. 

Maybe approach it along the lines of:

"It was really frustrating to see all the loads going up without me on them. Did you expect that many tandems? I understand that they are important, but it would have been nice if you had let me know it was going to be that busy. If I had known it was going to be that long of a wait, and had known in advance, I might have picked a less busy day to come out." 

Don't throw blame around, ask how to keep it from happening again in the future. 

Don't express it in terms of what they did, go with what you were seeing. 

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Colorado Jones, welcome to our sport, with DZs with great turbine aircraft that only want to do tandems, and great small DZs that just don't have the lift capacity to keep up. After you get your A, I hope you have a chance to travel and experience other DZs. I'm lucky to have a home DZ in WA state with a good amount of tandems, a busy AFF student program, and a big community of fun jumpers, with the lift capacity for all. The DZOs themselves love to fun jump, so they make sure to get everyone up in the air. I hope you can get some help from your current DZ and feel like staying in the sport. 

 

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Quick update:  I talked to the DZO and he felt bad about the whole situation.  They kept getting walk on tandems and it was a full day of reservations and he really didnt want to tell me I wasn't going to jump that day.  We had a good chat, and came to the conclusion that I should avoid Saturdays until I'm doing full altitude jumps (which is only two jumps away!). 

I went in yesterday and knocked out three jumps, two practice clear and pulls with a dummy pilot and then I NAILED my first solo clear and pull (IAD student) on the last load of the day!!! I did hang onto my pilot for a second before releasing, but I got it into clean air for sure! I am scheduled for next week for one 10 second delay jump, then all the way to the top for full altitude jumps and freefall!  I am stoked!!

Edited by ColoradoJones

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There is also my friends cheapo style go pro lying out there somewhere in the weeds. I came off on exit, we looked for a while and never found it.

Oh and funny story my friends were out there before I got a jump with them at that DZ and well they went to full altitude with no door. Must've been dam cold!

Nice clear and pull bro! Definitely take heed on the shirt advice goes for fleece jackets and such too. Just find a nice used jumpsuit that fits you and you'll be much happier.

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14 hours ago, gunsmokex said:

There is also my friends cheapo style go pro lying out there somewhere in the weeds. I came off on exit, we looked for a while and never found it.

Oh and funny story my friends were out there before I got a jump with them at that DZ and well they went to full altitude with no door. Must've been dam cold!

Nice clear and pull bro! Definitely take heed on the shirt advice goes for fleece jackets and such too. Just find a nice used jumpsuit that fits you and you'll be much happier.

I did my first jump that day with a long sleeve fleece pullover that fits tightly (luckily all my warm cloths are old and purchased before I gained 30 lbs, so they are all snug lol) and my last two jumps were done in the snug fitting T-shirt.  Does it look like my shirt is too loose? Ill talk to the coach about finding a jumpsuit (or buying one).  I was comfortable at 5k AGL, but I am sure 9k at a 120 mph will be cold. 

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