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  1. Hadthomas

    Skydive Spain

    Yep, this is a very good DZ overall. The instructors are a professional team, and the packers go out of their way to help people and give good advice. Even the pilots are cheerful, which in my experience is pretty unusual for a DZ. Everyone mucks in to help everyone else here. The PLA is absolutely huge, and has few hazards other than a small creek running through it. The staff discourage overflying the buildings and runway when under canopy, which seems pretty fair and sensible to me. Lifts are to 15K - truly excellent, and cost EU24 each (less if you buy blocks of tickets, but the tickets are non-refundable). The DZ currently have an SMG and a Dornier - the SMG is a fantastic jump aircraft and getting to 15K is really quick. The centre offers every sort of tuition you can imagine. The only downside to this place is that there's a hellish unmade access road to the aerodrome, and I'm glad I was driving a hire car rather than my own one. Oh, and the cafe is a bit on the pricey side, but their food is good. To gain access into the aerodrome itself you have to use a swipe card at the gate - this is obtained from the DZ cafe for a Eu10 deposit. I would not like to 'bunk' here - the bunk accommodation is cheap but is, um, basic. When first I saw it, I thought there was a woodshed manufacturer at the aerodrome. I was much impressed with Skydive Spain - I'll be back.
  2. Hadthomas

    Pau Skydive

    I have reviewed many DZs and this is the first one to which I've given an overall '5' rating. This DZ is pretty difficult to find, to say the least, with no signposting (even at its entrance - were it not for the descending canopies, it could easily be mistaken for a farm or campsite) and requiring searching through country lanes, most of which are not on the map. However, having finally found it, I discovered this place REALLY rocks. It is near to the French Army's main airborne base, and has experienced, friendly jumpers aplenty. When I visited (over several days) there was a competition in full swing with 8-ways aboard two Pilates aircraft ; nonetheless, I had difficulty packing fast enough for the next lift. The staf are extremely friendly and thorough in flight-line checks. The office and manifest are designed around the jumpers, not for the comfort of the staff. This place has some fabulous views of the Pyrenees, has a well-appointed cafe with a good chef, a swimming pool for jumpers' spouses/girlfriends/children. This place has pretty much everything you've ever dream a DZ could have, plus the usual weather of the South of France. I do not know about rig hire, and didn't ask because I brought my own. The packing hall is cavernous, and has a very large creeping area with lots of trolleys etc available. The PLA is very extensive ; the lifts go to about 13,000ft AND the lift tickets are cheap. Cons: apart form its being incredibly difficult to find this DZ, virtually NO ONE here speaks any English whatsoever, although the staff were very patient with me when I was babbling away in my schoolboy French. There is no reason why they SHOULD speak English, of course (how many DZs in the UK or USA have French-speaking staff?) but for this reason, I would not recommend this place to a student jumper who does not have a pretty good command of the French language (unless you bring your own instructor). If you're an experienced jumper, or a 4-or 8-way team, this is the place to train : I think it's even better than Elsinore, DeLand or Zephyrhills (except this place doesn't have a wind tunnel). Also, I recommend that anyone who is thinking of setting up their own DZ should visit this place : THIS is the way to do it. I'll be visiting this place again : of that you may be sure.
  3. This DZ is about 45 miles North of Cape Town,near the nuclear power station. It is accessed from the R27 via a 2-mile unmade road that is likely to damage the chassis of a saloon car unless you're careful. The DZ is sandy and large (but beware sudden changes to wind speeds). There is a small shop and cafe, which is adequate for jumpers' and families' needs. No idea about rig hire facilities, as I brought my own. There is no creeping area. This DZ has a couple of aircraft that each lifts 5-6 jumpers. Most of the lifts are filled up with tandem pasengers and instructors, plus cameraman. This means that anyone else is only likely to get 2-3 jumps in any given day, and these are likely to be solos unless you're lucky. The upside of this is that there is a lot of tandem instructors around who can (and do) give helpful advice on techniques etc. This DZ is excellent for first-time tandem pasengers, but not for experienced solo or team jumpers, despite the best efforts of the owner (Anton) to accommodate such jumpers. This DZ will be superb when it acquires a larger aircraft.
  4. Hadthomas

    Skydive Gran Canaria

    This club is based at the SE corner of Gran Canaria Island, near to San Agustin & Playa del Ingles. It is 20 yards away from a rival club (Paraclub de Gran Canaria) and the two clubs appear not to get on with each other. The DZ is on the sand dunes at Playa del Ingles, about 15 minutes' drive from the airstrip. Packing is done on a rolled-out strip of carpet among the beach cafes. The club itself has little to no food/drink capabilities, but as mentioned, the DZ and 'packing area' is among the cafes and bars at the beach front. Actual jumping is VERY hit and miss here : the lifts are invariably at 1430-1500 onwards and there are only 1-2 lifts per day. These will only take place if it is economical for the plane (a Cessna 206), so lifts will only take place if either there is a tandem that day, OR there is a visiting formation team willing to pay for a lift. The staff themselves are MASSIVELY experienced and professional instructors (2), and they go out of their way to help people as much as they can, given the financial constraints of this club. In short, this club is an awesome and highly recommended experience for tandem jumpers, but this club is not for solo or pairs jumpers who want to get in a LOT of jumps within a few days. I do not know about the club's rig-hire availability : as I have my own rig I did not ask them. There is also the facility to do helicopter jumps here, but they are pricey and tend to be the domain of the rival club next door.
  5. This club is based, along with Skydive Gran Canaria, at an airstrip near San Agustin (SE corner of Gran Canaria). Both clubs use the dunes at Playa del Ingles as their DZ. This club's facilities are virtually identical to Skydive Gran Canaria (see my review of that club), with one glaring difference : this club appears not to have any fixed-wing aircraft at present. How long this state of affairs is likely to continue, I'm not sure. For the present, the club is using a helicopter for their skydives. The helo can carry 3 passengers, and each solo skydiver is charged EU50 for each jump (from 10.5K ft). The club does not get on with the other skydive club next door ; consequently there is little or no co-operation between the clubs concerning the use of the Cessna 206 owned by the other club. If you are a tandem jumper or a experienced jumper who has not done a rotary wing exit, by all means give this club a try. Otherwise I cannot, unfortunately, recommend this club until they get a proper skydive aircraft.
  6. This DZ is both a military and civilian club ; unlike other such mixed clubs, the staff here are helpful and easygoing, they do not order people around in the usual military manner. It has a good mix of military jumpers and German civilians - always a good sign. The club is more than a little difficult to find, but worth the searching among various military shooting ranges to find. It has only two drawbacks : firstly it is in a bowl plateau with a horseshoe of hils around it, which can lead to its being the only cloudy place for 50 miles around, with resultant frustrations of waiting ages for clearance to jump ; secondly the provision of food is a bit hit and miss, so you never know when you turn up if there is going to be tea/coffee/rolls available - it is a long drive to the nearest cafe. On the plus side, they have a good bar, and hold some fantastic parties. The equipment for hire, the professionalism of the staff and the packing facilities are all of exceptional quality. If you get a bad 'spot' as you leave the aircraft it can be expensive on your canopy - the DZ is surrounded on 3 sides by forest . . .
  7. Hadthomas

    DZ Chaika Ukraine

    This DZ is EXTREMELY hard to find but worth the effort - it is about 20 min by taxi from central Kiev. I have visited scores of DZ's and this one is the least cliquey of all of them. They use a large Antonov with tail exit, which can have about 30 jumpers exiting simultaneously if this is your thing. There is a doctor on site on all jumping days. Site operates Thu - Mon in summer months. The PLA is truly MASSIVE ; there are good packing facilities, cheap professional packers and cheap jump tickets. The DZ has its own basic cafe, and there is a good restaurant nearby. You cannot hire rigs here - you must bring all your own stuff. There is minimal waiting time for lifts - once you get manifested, you can pretty much guarantee to be in the a/c 20 minutes later, and it has a good climb rate. They jump from 13,000ft. No hook turns are allowed ; they impose the J-landing pattern rigidly. Fine by me, as I'm a coward and not into swooping. Kiev is predominently Russian-speaking, as opposed to Ukrainian-speaking, and despite my girlfriend being fluent in Ukrainian, getting me onto the manifest, and finding out which was my lift, was invariably a drama because of language difficulties. The DZ has a website which is poorly mainrained, and if you click on the 'English' version, you will find a dead link. Overall, this is a first-class DZ if you speak Russian, and have all your own kit.
  8. 2 corrections to the other reviews : firstly Plett does not always offer beach landings. Secondly, it is NOT within reasonable driving distance of Cape Town, it is a good 300 miles away. This DZ has a very small aircraft (Cessna 182) which essentially caters for tandem jumps ; they allow individual jumpers as and when, but if you wish to anything more than a 2-way, forget it - too impractical. The a/c goes only to 10K, but that said, the views from it are truly breathtaking. The staff I found rather stand-offish and indifferent at first, who then became v friendly after a little encouragement. In summary, OK for a small outfit, but do not expect ANY facilities other than a packing service, and a small bar.
  9. Not the easiest of DZ's to visit as an outsider. Staff are v thorough with checking licences & kit (thumbs-up from me) but leave you in no doubt how brilliant they think they are. When I jumped there the whole DZ was COVERED in sheep shit - do not fall over when you land! There is a helicopter school here, with complete novice heli pilots whizzing about at ground level. It was enough to put me off jumping here again.