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riggerrob

"Losing the love"

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We have all seen what happens to DZs after the DZO loses his passion for skydiving and only thinks of students in terms of dollar signs.

We saw what happened to Didsbury, Alberta after the Randy Fewchuk decided that cocaine gave him a greater thrill than skydiving.
We saw what happened to Beiseker, Alberta after Jim Mercier got greedy.
We saw what happened to Hinckley, Illinois after the DZO lost too many sons in plane crashes.
Mark Schlatter told me what happened to his DZ after he burnt out.

My challenge is to ask staff and fun jumpers what they can do to keep a DZ "alive" after the DZO loses interest?

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My challenge is to ask staff and fun jumpers what they can do to keep a DZ "alive" after the DZO loses interest?



Really good question Rob. I don't really know what to do. I have seen in happen in Steinbach also. The owners got greedy and now the dropzone operates on minimal staffing and is a tandem factory. Pretty much all the experienced jumpers changed dropzones. Once something like that happens the dropzone is dead.

If the jumpers stick together then I think something can be done. They can essentially work together as a team and remove that element that the DZO has. But that takes a strong team and I haven't seen that at a dropzone. There are also groups of jumpers and some that don't get along with others.

I am looking forward to see what other have to say.

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We boycotted at Spaceland once; it was short lived but I think the DZO realized that the experieced jumpers were part of his biz. Of course, you have to have an alternate location to jump to make this happen...


I think a lot of alternative locations have historically emerged from this process. Much harder (more expensive) now than in the past to "just open our own place."

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My challenge is to ask staff and fun jumpers what they can do to keep a DZ "alive" after the DZO loses interest?



A DZ is just a business. As much as we might like to attach more sentimental feelings to a DZ, it's a business just like a pizza joint, or a book store.

Every business needs a 'whip'. There needs to be a guy (or girl) who stays up late at night thinking about ways to make the place better, and spends all day putting those plans to work. Generally, this motivation comes from the need for money, to eat and provide for your family, but with a DZ there also needs to be a dose of love, due mostly to the balance of lots of work for little profit.

Either way, if there is another 'whip' to take the place of the DZO, you're all set, but only if the DZO doesn't mind being an absentee owner, and doesn't try to step on the toes of the new 'whip'. The truth is that most DZOs will have a problem with that, and will try to co-manage, or just annoy the shit out of the new guy.

The 'teamwork' idea, where no one person is in charge rarely works out. The team might do really well running the place, until 6PM on Sunday when everyone wants to go home, and figures one of the 'other guys' will finish packing the tandems and lock up for the night. When there is a DZO, or single person in charge, everyone knows who's staying late on Sunday night.

Unless you can find an outright buyer, it's not a good situation. The DZ will slowly wind down while the owner realizes the love is gone. By the time you find a buyer, the DZ has lost the momentum, and that takes time to get back.

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Real similar to other commercial operations such as Dive Boats in terms of dealing with crazy customers, liability issues etc. I can only imagine it must be stressfull to run a DZ.

I for one are really grateful to DZOs in Southern California for providing the service and variety of facilities. I havnt jumped outside of California much,but I know some states have very few Drop Zones.

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The 'teamwork' idea, where no one person is in charge rarely works out.



It seemed to work out well at SWOOP in (then) Grand Bend, Ontario in the 1980's--and as far as I can tell still does.
"It's hard to have fun at 4-way unless your whole team gets down to the ground safely to do it again!"--Northern California Skydiving League re USPA Safety Day, March 8, 2014

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Swoop really is an exception. I believe it is one of 2 clubs left in Canada that actually operate an aircraft. They are a two Cessna operation in a market with one twin piston and three turbine operators. I am sure there are some old timers that will stay for ever because it is their club and that's the way they like it, but I have to wonder whether they will leak new jumpers until they no longer exist.

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I forgot about Brandon. Kamloops does not operate an aircraft. One member operates the aircraft and the club is fully dependent on him. I admit this is less significant that it used to be as several commercial centres do not operate their own aircraft these days, but my point remains that the club really is a model that is fading away. The club that operates on a commercial centre taking care of the needs of the fun jumpers while the owner concentrates on the school/factory seems to be becoming more prevalent.

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Good questions, Rob.

It helps to remember that a DZO had to flunk a test to get his job. If he passed Econ 101 he already knows at the outset that he is in the wrong place.

All DZO's are assholes. They already know this because the most frequently required technique for staying in business is the telling of friends and customers that the answer is NO!

Losing the Love is accelerated in the DZO's heart as naysayers succeed - 1 by 1 - in promoting their firm assertions that the DZO must have flunked some bizarre test they never wrote.

Shut up and jump, damnit! And when you leave the DZ at sundown, pick up some trash and YELL REALLY loud over your left shoulder:

"THANKS FOR HAVING A DROPZONE ASSHOLE!!"

she will love you for itB|

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Not speaking for the club, but I know that at South Sask, it is our belief that we have to always encourage "New Blood" to come up and help out. I have to admit that I have learned alot from our senior staff, and I know that I strive to be as good as them.
Without that new blood, I believe that clubs will die. I believe that is what happened with PSM.
With that in mind as well, we fun jumpers realize that the students that come in is what supports us. We all have to chip in, and in turn we get to have more "less expensive" fun.
I also believe that this year is going to be a turning point for us. There are more up and comers in our club, we get a second plane and... well... wow... it is going to be a great year.
So in short, if fun jumpers realize that students help them accomplish their goals, and those fun jumpers in turn help the students, I see no reason that clubs cannot continue to exist.

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Yes,

That reminds me of the way the Moncton Skydiving Club used to operate.
Presidents were only allowed to serve for two years. Then they would nominate a keen, up-coming jumper to take over the presidency.
The newcomer got lots of support from the "old hats" but was encouraged to explore new avenues.

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Just went through this with a club. Turned into a tandem factory, because a few people (that did most of the tandems) decided that the only thing that mattered was the money. The "fun" jumpers fought back for a while, then got tired of it. I tried to stay out of either camp, but things got to the point that my last year+ there I didn't do a single 4-way jump. 5 years earier, there would be 2-cessna formation loads almost every weekend.
My only advice would be to move on.
I did. I have to drive a little further, but now am at a DZ where I still teach and work with students, but also get a lot of fun jumps. This place has actually decided to limit the number of tandem jumps and focus more on student developement and fun jumping. I was not enjoying skydiving at the old DZ, I feel great about the new one.
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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