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fakeaccount

Outgrowing your home dropzone

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Disclaimer: obviously not my real profile… not trying to troll I just don't want to cast blame on my home DZ and want to keep this to a general experience freefliers have had with DZs that don't or can't do a whole lot to grow their fun jumper base.

Ever feel like your dz is a tandem mill that doesn’t really do anything for fun jumpers but give you the leftover seats on the plane?

Ever feel like your dz’s events are really just fundraising booths and the day of skydiving is in no way different from any other day Saturday? Or the event is always something after skydiving like a chili cookoff?

Does your DZ have a freefly load organizer?

Does the experience level perpetually stay around 200-400 jumps? Do the more experienced jumpers just kind of give up on the local dz and start making the road trip to a mega DZ be around a more vibrant FF community?

I feel like I’ve kind of outgrown my dz. They don’t really do a lot to promote fun jumpers. I was wondering if its my dz or if this is pretty normal for medium sized turbine DZs.

Would love to hear some of your thoughts.

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fakeaccount

Disclaimer: obviously not my real profile… not trying to troll I just don't want to cast blame on my home DZ and want to keep this to a general experience BELLYFLYERS had with DZs that don't or can't do a whole lot to grow their fun jumper base.

Ever feel like your dz is a tandem mill that doesn’t really do anything for fun jumpers but give you the leftover seats on the plane?

Ever feel like your dz’s events are really just fundraising booths and the day of skydiving is in no way different from any other day Saturday? Or the event is always something after skydiving like a chili cookoff?

Does your DZ have a BELLYFLY load organizer?

Does the experience level perpetually stay around 200-400 jumps? Do the more experienced jumpers just kind of give up on the local dz and start making the road trip to a mega DZ be around a more vibrant FF community?

I feel like I’ve kind of outgrown my dz. They don’t really do a lot to promote fun jumpers. I was wondering if its my dz or if this is pretty normal for medium sized turbine DZs.

Would love to hear some of your thoughts.

fify
i have on occasion been accused of pulling low . My response. Naw I wasn't low I'm just such a big guy I look closer than I really am .


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first off...love the account name.

Second...yes this has happened with me about 5 years ago. Although I didn't leave due to the seats being filled by tandems, it was exactly what you said about growing your fun jumper base (among many things). And I didn't have the larger dz to run to. I just opted to either stop jumping or drive 2.5 hrs to another dz of the same size. It was good I did so because it showed me how a dz should be operated...friendly, welcoming, inclusive and family oriented. It was just what I needed to keep me in the sport.

So no, I don't think all dz's are like that....but yes they are out there sadly.
my pics & stuff!

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While I can't comment with experience there are some things we (as fun jumpers) need to keep in mind:
Most DZ's do not make any money on fun jumpers; tandems finance our jumps
Most events are not making a profit for the DZ, they are to entertain the fun jumpers
The fun jumper regulars are the heart of a DZ, the DZ is what you make out of it...

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Not sure where you are located, but for a variety of reasons people leave their former home DZs. When I decided to leave my former home DZ I felt guilty leaving the place that taught me so much in my first 90 jumps but for a variety of reasons it's no longer the place for me.

At the end of the day, you're spending your hard earned money and can choose which DZ you spend that money at. People change, dropzones change, goals change.

Luckily I'm in proximity to Northern California which provides many options and I found a place that fits my needs and I now call it my home DZ.

Have you explored any other dzs? Sounds like there is another place that is a further drive, but provides the elements important to you.

Best of luck to you and hope you find a DZ that fits your needs!
I was put on this earth to do one thing. Luckily I forgot what it was so I do whatever I want.

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Most DZ's do not make any money on fun jumpers



I'm not in the business so I don't have an informed opinion on making money versus breaking even with fun jumpers but I'm pretty sure, knowing my local DZO, that he wouldn't do it if he weren't making money off of us.

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Most events are not making a profit for the DZ, they are to entertain the fun jumpers



Yeah I would agree with that if our events benefitted actual skydiving. My DZ is run by staff the DZO is not that active in the day to day operations so a lot of the events have a beer light focus or are fundraisers. I think the beer light focus is more for the staff's morale, which is understandable and has a place in any work environment. I suspect the fundraisers are more of a local news soundbite for a little free marketing towards the general public. There's nothing wrong with that either more tandems is more loads, more loads is more seats, more open seats for skydivers... The issue I see on this aspect is that there are few events for skydivers involved in skydiving. I've seen maybe 8 events at my dropzone that directly involved skydiving in the last 6 years. Maybe getting a load organizer, or comping the staff to jump with guys. We lose SO many skydivers after the A license and before 100 jumps. Its staggering I'd estimate 70%.

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The fun jumper regulars are the heart of a DZ, the DZ is what you make out of it...



A very good point except at my home dz the tandem operation and the staff is the heart of the DZ. Perhaps its a chicken vs egg kind of thing, maybe they used to try and the fun jumpers didn't really respond so they gave up, maybe they never tried and the fun jumpers just move on after awhile. I'm not really sure, I know I don't particularly want to leave my DZ for its sentimental attachment and convenience (both are equally important issues).

I think that fun jumpers do more than we think to promote our DZs. We are the only eligible pool for future workers which has a direct impact on DZs. We contribute significantly to the vibe for tandems when they see us loading up with them. Calm, focused, cracking jokes, or whatever behavior which is foreign to them on their first ride to altitude to jump. I'm sure a significant part of their customer experience is our contribution to the vibe and that impacts there P2P referrals and social media presence.

Anyway, great comments.

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General reply to the thread:

If you feel you have learnt all that the DZ has to offer, by all means go and increase your skills elsewhere - everyone does that at some point. The problem in this cunsumer-oriented culture is that not enough people actually return with their newfound skills as a teacher to increase said skills at home.

As for there being few fun jumper oriented events: band together with your fun jumping friends and organise something. It doesn't have to be very expensive with load organisers, special planes etc. Start small, and invite your jumping buddies from other DZ's.

At my DZ we used to have a 'precision scrambled' in which an experienced jumper was teamed up with a newbie. The pair that could land closest to the target (cumulative score) would win a very modest prize, such as a free beer. Just a simple example, I'm sure you can think up something of your own.
"That formation-stuff in freefall is just fun and games but with an open parachute it's starting to sound like, you know, an extreme sport."
~mom

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Hi everyone,

I agree. I've noticed a considerable decline in the number of belly fliers or FS/RW jumpers at my DZ. That may be due to the fact that we are now a two-cessna DZ which used to be a summer turbine DZ.

I find my enthusiasm for jumping waning, and catch myself doing a lot more solos or low passes, just to get in the air. I've sometimes wondered if it's because my skills have suffered since I have fewer people to do belly RW with.

It's difficult to think that I'd have to drive even further (2+ hrs) to make quality belly or 4-way jumps with people I don't know.

Apologies for hijacking a FF thread :$
PULL!! or DIE!!

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I just want to throw in here that fake accounts are generally a quick ticket to the trash bin for the thread and a banning for the user. But, I'm going to let this one stay as long as "fakeaccount" only posts to this thread. It's an good discussion and I understand the heat the OP would take if he/she talked openly about the dz in question.

Carry on. :)
She is Da Man, and you better not mess with Da Man,
because she will lay some keepdown on you faster than, well, really fast. ~Billvon

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This poster and I started at the same DZ around the same time, and we both moved to other DZs around the same time. At the time, we had some complaints about our former home DZ (my complaints have largely since been addressed and corrected), but since then, I personally moved to a DZ where I click better with the fun jumpers.

I went back to my old DZ for a visit last weekend and the manager asked me what it would take to get me back there jumping full-time again. He asked about ticket prices, boogies, free jumps, etc. Truthfully the price is the same and my new DZ is even smaller and newer with fewer resources, but at the end of the day if you enjoy (versus feeling like you have to compete with) the people you're having a beer with, it's worth it.

There's nothing WRONG with my former DZ. It's very safe, clean, and has a lot of resources and a lot of talent. But there's a camaraderie at my new home DZ that fits me better, and when my wuffo friends ask me where to go, I send them to my new home--not because it's objectively better for tandems, but because I have a vested interest in its success. If anything, I welcome tandems because their energy and enthusiasm is infectious on the plane. There's very little risk of a small DZ in the middle of nowhere, CA becoming a tandem factory when they're competing with Tahoe and Monterey, and tandems keep DZs afloat, so I happily welcome them.

Edit: also sorry I hijacked a FF thread (wasn't paying attention) but I think this can be universal. I don't FF that much and it's very lonely being at a DZ where you can't find many people doing your discipline. There's a fairly high barrier of entry (reasonably so) to FF, so when I found a bunch of RWers at my new home DZ, it was like that Blind Melon video where the little bumblebee finds the field of other bumblebees.
I'm not a lady, I'm a skydiver.

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Baksteen


As for there being few fun jumper oriented events: band together with your fun jumping friends and organise something. It doesn't have to be very expensive with load organisers, special planes etc. Start small, and invite your jumping buddies from other DZ's.



That happened at my home DZ a few years back. The guy who started it wanted it to be a progression oriented group with a minimum skill level of flying a headdown base from exit until breakoff. For those of us in the group it was amazing. But that's a pretty high bar for inclusion. Most of the DZs jumpers didn't meet the prerequisites so once the group ran its course, it was back to status quo.

The staff is very good about mentoring young jumpers through the landing pattern and if you aren't protecting your handles near the door etc. Anything they see while working they point out and that matters. There is a pretty good safety culture as a result of that.

The issue is that the DZ has never cultivated its fun jumper base. As a result people jump for a few years having fun and progressing and then they see the end of the progress. After awhile they lose hope and quit jumping or make the trek. My home DZ doesn't even have a Facebook page for experienced jumpers and that is not a significant effort.

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FlyLikeARaven

There's nothing WRONG with my former DZ. It's very safe, clean, and has a lot of resources and a lot of talent. But there's a camaraderie at my new home DZ that fits me better, and when my wuffo friends ask me where to go, I send them to my new home--not because it's objectively better for tandems, but because I have a vested interest in its success. If anything, I welcome tandems because their energy and enthusiasm is infectious on the plane. There's very little risk of a small DZ in the middle of nowhere, CA becoming a tandem factory when they're competing with Tahoe and Monterey, and tandems keep DZs afloat, so I happily welcome them.



Since I happen to jump at the same DZ, I will chime in. The new DZ's owner is doing his damnest to make the jumpers feel welcome. Take the fact there's pizza or other food up for grabs during the day for jumpers. It's in no way required or expected of a DZ, but it's such an amazingly nice thing to do. He's done a lot to make sure jumpers and instructors are happy, and seized the opportunity provided by the growing frustration with the other well-established DZ in the area and used it to create something beautiful.

Plus the issue of who is available for jumping. In fact we had an interesting talk about just that with some of the old timers this last weekend -- there are cycles, and they can change the DZ atmosphere completely in a couple years. That your DZ is home to many high-level jumpers and a great place to practice team jumps can be its undoing if it becomes a place where you can only jump if you're a high-level jumper in a team because nobody else is available for random pickups. And that can have a very subtle in onset and happen without much warning once it gets going.
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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fakeaccount


My home DZ doesn't even have a Facebook page for experienced jumpers and that is not a significant effort.



Have you considered making a facebook group or page yourself for the experienced jumpers at your dz?

I jump at Lodi and we have a facebook group for jumpers that is not run by the DZO. People can post about skydiving events and news, etc. It's informative and keeps our community tight.

FlyLikeARaven's dz also has a page for experienced jumpers. I am unsure who runs that page though.
I was put on this earth to do one thing. Luckily I forgot what it was so I do whatever I want.

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mathrick


The new DZ's owner is doing his damnest to make the jumpers feel welcome. Take the fact there's pizza or other food up for grabs during the day for jumpers. It's in no way required or expected of a DZ, but it's such an amazingly nice thing to do. He's done a lot to make sure jumpers and instructors are happy, and seized the opportunity provided by the growing frustration with the other well-established DZ in the area and used it to create something beautiful.



+1 agreed. Aaron has done an awesome job creating a vibe that is welcoming. Going to an unfamiliar dz is nerve wracking and it's a breath of fresh air arriving at Skydive California.
I was put on this earth to do one thing. Luckily I forgot what it was so I do whatever I want.

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That's my point:

One must invest in a basic population of (in this case) funjumpers before you can expect to improve the skill level by hosting the expert camps.

Perhaps organise several low-level camps every season, with one medium to high-level camp at the end of the year so that jumpers have something to work towards. And by no means this should/has to be limited to Freeflying. I'm sure the belly fliers / CReW dogs / acuuracy jumpers / Wingsuiters at your DZ feel the same. Band together with some of them and start organising.

Don't forget the beginning students either. Jump with them at their level and cultivate interest for your discipline of choice.
"That formation-stuff in freefall is just fun and games but with an open parachute it's starting to sound like, you know, an extreme sport."
~mom

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kgusack


Have you considered making a facebook group or page yourself for the experienced jumpers at your dz?



I've thought someone should. I don't think that person is me though. Someday I'll be more willing to step into a leadership role but with work and family I'm not ready to make that commitment and I'd rather give it a solid effort than a half hearted one. 6 years from now I'll be in a better place with work and family and I'll give it a go then.

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I'm still not clear:

You obviously care about the DZ, or you'd simply have left.

Posting on here will not change things. So step up and change them.
Should you not feel qualified to organise a skills camp for lowtimers yourself, approach someone who is. But someone has to get the ball rolling - other people aren't taking responsibility (or don't care)... so that leaves YOU.
"That formation-stuff in freefall is just fun and games but with an open parachute it's starting to sound like, you know, an extreme sport."
~mom

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Baksteen

I'm still not clear:



Your perfectly clear. I've considered it. Other folks have approached the DZ about organizing and whatnot. At this point I'd have to organize myself which I don't feel I have the experience or enough time to do.

I guess the heart of the issue is that I expect the DZ to be more involved.

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I guess the heart of the issue is that I expect the DZ to be more involved.



It sounds you aren't in a place to be running skills camps or starting facebook groups and that is okay. It sounds like your DZ doesn't have the same vision as you do and that is also okay. You can choose to stay there but you are unhappy enough to be posting here on dropzone.com.

Personally I like to think of this like a relationship. You've expressed what you want to change, but nothing is changing. What are your options?

"Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness." – Eckhart Tolle
I was put on this earth to do one thing. Luckily I forgot what it was so I do whatever I want.

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