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    Cypres 2

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    Crete Skydiving Center
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    Formation Skydiving
  1. Are you still having fun? If yes, then keep jumping. Between bad weather, lack of money, and scheduling conflicts with my work (a prerequisite for making money to jump!) I took almost 2 years and 45 jumps to get my A license. But I don't regret it a bit. I had fun every time I went to the DZ. At the end of the day, that's all this sport is about--having fun. We don't NEED to jump out of planes, we WANT to. Sure, you're not going to make as much progress as somebody who is hammering out 6 or 8 jumps every weekend, but who cares? As long as you understand it'll be a slower pace and are ok with that, by all means, keep chipping away at it.
  2. Reminds me of a funny story.. I recently met a person who left their job to get their pilot's licence in pursuit of their dream of becoming a captain on an airliner. That licence is in the pocket, but I know that doesn't mean they have enough hours to fly an airliner, or even something like a Caravan. So I told said person that they might like to become a jump pilot and that way build some more hours and work their way up to bigger aircraft. The person gave me a condecending look and literally said "that no airline would take a guy seriously who spent their time on a job like flying skydivers" or [towing advertisements] or for that matter any other kind of GA. They then went on to say that the first thing to do was to find a job with an airliner and then start building hours while flying for them. Since this person was easily over thirty (conservative estimate) I just shook my head at them and walked away. Well, there might have been some miscommunication between the two of you, but in general, I'd side with that guy. Flying skydivers isn't very useful towards the end goal of flying for an airline. I've done several jobs in aviation (including flying jumpers, and now, working for an airline), and I'd say the jumper flying was probably the most simple, brainless flying I've done in my 7-year career. Not to say it wasn't fun, and educational in some respects, but I don't consider it a job that takes much skill, relative to most other jobs in aviation. It's 180 degrees different from the airline world. If I'm ever on an interview board for an airline and an applicant comes in with lots of jump pilot time, I'd have a lot of fun shooting the breeze with them about skydiving, but I wouldn't necessarily respect them for their flying skills. I'd want to see other experience along with it.
  3. Pilots in the skydiving industry cover the entire spectrum of personalities and professionalism. I don't even try to generalize. I've met some really excellent, highly trained, professional aviators in the front of jump aircraft. But I've also met a few who couldn't fly their way out of a wet paper bag to save their life. The only reason I was willing to get in the plane with them was because I knew if I could make it through the takeoff and initial climb, I'd probably live by just bailing out if anything went wrong. I didn't trust them to do *anything* correctly in case of an emergency. They weren't even flying to private pilot standards. The only reason they kept working is because the DZ couldn't find anyone else to cover the shift. This lack of training/professionalism at some DZs is an industry-wide problem, IMO. You'd never see it in an airline or military environment, but then again, those genres are funded entirely differently than DZs. Mix shoestring budgets and very little oversight, and you'll get unpredictable quality. Back to the matter at hand--no matter who you're dealing with, the same rules for social interactions applies just as much to pilots as anyone else. Keep your cool and try to get them to understand where you're coming from. If they still don't get it, you have two options: Keep jumping anyway. Or not. It's your choice. In one case, I was jumping with a pilot at a Cessna DZ who would consistently fly jump run at 110 knots--not really dangerous, but super annoying. He was terrified of stalling. We talked to him on numerous occasions but we couldn't get him to slow down for us. But for some reason, he'd slow it down to a nice, reasonable 80 knots for static line students. Once I found this out, every jump I went on, even though it was the same as any other jump, I'd always tell him, "Hey, we're trying a new type of exit, can you fly jump run like we're static liners?" Worked like a charm. I felt like I was talking to a monkey, but it worked.
  4. Indeed! I've played the "fly to a DZ" game before in my Cessna 140. Lots of fun. Unfortunately I put my plane in storage because I found I wasn't flying it enough during the cold months to justify keeping its inspections current. Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone. I have some very promising ideas now. Let me know if there are any other options which haven't been mentioned yet.
  5. Thanks for the tip. Elsinore is a fantastic place. I made several jumps there last spring and was very impressed. I'd love to come back. What is the easiest way to contact possible carpools? Just to keep my options open, anyone know of an Elsinore-esque place in Florida I could get to? Florida generally has easier airline connections out of STL simply because it's only one timezone shift, rather than two, like out to California. But now I'm just getting picky ;-)
  6. Here is my unusual situation: I just started working for an airline and now have the ability to travel almost anywhere, on any airline, for free (jumpseating). The problem is that I will be based in Marion, Illinois, about two hours southeast of St. Louis. Since I'm lowest seniority in the base, I'll be working almost every weekend. I don't think there are any DZs within easy driving distance that are open weekdays in the winter, so I figured I'd put my travel benefits to work and jumpseat out to a DZ on my days off. So I'm looking for a DZ, pretty much anywhere in the country, that meets the following criteria: --Close to an airport with a fair amount of commercial airline service...I need options to get in and out in case one flight's jumpseat is already taken. --Preferably accessible from said airport via mass transit or shuttle bus, so I don't have to rent a car. --Preferably has a bunkhouse so I don't have to get a hotel room. --Open for jumping on Wednesdays/Thursdays, even during the winter. I work Friday-Monday and have Tuesday-Thursday off. I know this is a tall order. Does such a place exist? There must be something in Florida or California, right? I'll go anywhere to get my knees in the breeze!
  7. I moved to a new town and needed a job. The dropzone was the first place that would hire me as a pilot. I had absolutely no interest in jumping, but the DZ had a deal where they'd give their pilots a free jump for every 25 hours of flying if they wanted it. I'm a sucker for free stuff. Even though I had no interest in jumping, I figured if I was going to do it, I might as well go all out--so I asked if I could use the "free jump" credit for a first jump course rather than a tandem. They said I could. So one fine Saturday afternoon in April I found myself hanging from the strut of a Cessna, hooked up to a static line, scared to death. As soon as I let go, I finally understood why all these crazy people kept jumping out of my plane. I was hooked.
  8. Yeah, I don't know much about the politics of professional skydiving. I imagine it's similar to flying. It's more about the attitude than the action. What I mean is, I really don't care if somebody decides to work for free. There have been times when I'll hop in the cockpit and fly a load or two for free because the paid pilot wants a break, and I don't want to bother filling out the paperwork for flying two loads. There are also pilots at my home DZ who have full time jobs outside aviation and only come out to fly in order to stay current and have fun. The DZ is willing to pay them, but they don't bother to fill out a time sheet. Cases like those don't matter. It's the whole, "I'll do anything to get ahead! I'll even work for free!" attitude that pisses me off.
  9. Just a heads up to your friend--he should ditch the "I'll do it for free" talk. Not just for flying at a DZ, but for any aviation position. I've been working as a professional pilot (outside of flying jumpers) for the past seven years, and there are few things that make us cringe more than a new guy wanting to show up and do a job for free. Now, that doesn't mean he should demand high wages. That doesn't even mean he shouldn't work for free--I'd be lying if I said I've never flown for free. But the big difference is that it's unprofessional to use the "I'll work for free" line as a selling point to why a DZ should use your friend. It's as though the price for his skills is more important than the skills themselves. It's also telling to see how a pilot will approach their job when they offer to fly for free. It shows that they're probably more concerned about building time than being an excellent pilot. If I'm hiring someone, I don't want a pilot who is trying to get hired based on price--I want one who is trying to get hired based on skill. Offering to fly for free is a sign they don't respect themselves enough, or think they're good enough, to expect to be paid. You get what you pay for. Another point to consider would be the reputation of any DZ unwilling to pay their pilots. Is that really the kind of place your friend wants to work for? If they're not willing to shell out a few bucks an hour for the pilot, where else are they cutting corners? Maintenance? Equipment? A more professional approach would be for your friend to show up at a DZ and express an interest in flying for them. Talk to whoever is in charge of hiring pilots and find out what the job entails. Then, at the end, ask, "What does this position pay?" He might end up working for next to nothing, but at least he'll show some self-respect as he goes to do it. Money should be the last thing on his mind, not the first. He should view himself as a talented, limited commodity, and if he decides to "settle" for low wages, that's his choice to make.
  10. Same reason as Skymama--I wear glasses and hate the feeling of goggles over top of glasses. At least that's why I started jumping my Z1 as a student. Having the added protection from getting bumped in the face is nice, too. Never been hit really hard, but the possibility is always there. Plus it's less of a hassle for fogging on the plane ride up. When everyone around me is tipping their goggles up, trying to get them to defog, I'm happily sitting there with my visor open. Just slide up to the door, click the visor down, and out I go. Very hassle-free. The final reason I like them is for added protection in the event I ever land off. Knock on wood, I've never landed in a corn field or tree, but I've heard that having a full face in such circumstances can keep one's face from getting scratched up.
  11. I would consider Portland, Oregon. It's kinda like Seattle, except better. Skydive Oregon has a very nice Caravan. Not sure if they jump year-round or not, but I had a great time jumping there in the summer. The city is very bike friendly, and the weather is drier than Seattle. Good skiing can be found in the mountains an hour or two's drive away.
  12. For sure. I've seen enough of Nat Geo's "Locked Up Abroad" to know better. That's why I'm starting the ball rolling now, six months before I want to actually step in to the country. I think I'll focus my research on the Czech Republic and Puerto Rico. Those two seem like the most promising for what I'm wanting.
  13. I would definitely be open to it. Do you have any further advice? Know anyone who's done something similar in Brazil?
  14. Not really. I have a very basic understanding of Spanish, but I'm far from fluent. I can read it well enough to get the general idea of say, a newspaper story, but don't speak it well. I'm not able to carry on a conversation. That's one of the reasons I'm attracted to living abroad for a year. I know I'm weak with languages and I'd like to pick up a deeper knowledge of one, regardless of which one it is.
  15. I've come to the realization recently that I want to spend a year living abroad. The factors of time, money, job, family connections, and many other things have come together to make such an adventure possible. I've decided that during a year outside the States, I absolutely must have access to a dropzone that has a good bunch of active fun jumpers...something more than a tandem mill for sure. I'm not picky about the size or aircraft at the DZ. If it's a 182 DZ, that's fine with me as long as it has decent weather and fun jumpers. I don't really care about climate, aside from the fact that I don't want to endure a long, hard winter (Canada, Russia, etc.). The question I have is, where should I go? My roommate spent a year working as an ESL teacher in and recommended the Czech Republic. Another mountain climber friend suggested going to New Zealand. Yet another friend suggested heading south to Belize, Nicaragua, or Panama. I'm open to anywhere I can find at least part time work so I don't burn through all my savings supporting myself for a year. I'd love to work at a DZ, but I don't qualify for the jumping jobs (no instructional ratings or camera flying qualifications, although I hope to become a coach before leaving on this trip) and it's usually difficult to work as a pilot abroad because of legal hurdles with the governments (although I'm an FAA licensed pilot, 3000+ hours, and jump pilot experience). Therefore I'm thinking I'd work as something like an ESL tutor, hotel front desk clerk, etc. and jump on the weekends. If you were me, where would you go? What resources are out there to start planning something of this nature? Googling the topic is overwhelming and I barely know where to start. I'd like to leave the US this January and spend most of 2012 wherever I end up going. So I have plenty of time to make plans, connections, file paperwork, pile extra cash into savings, and so on.