Flying Skydivers

twdeckard

New Member
I am daydreaming about flying jumpers. I made a few clumsy skydives many years ago and it was my introduction into aviation. I hold a COM-SEL however I have no professional aspirations. Just looking for something to do in aviation, as a hobby.

I would be eager for any advice. I am a grown man with a family and must consider my liability exposure. Are there things to look out for in a jump operation (again, I have some exposure to several operations and am not naive about them)?

Dumb question; are jump pilots typically paid? Or is the accrued flight time considered the compensation?

Thanks
Todd
 

JoelT

Well-Known Member
I flew jumpers a couple of times many moons ago. Once, during an airline interview I was asked what was the stupidest thing I had ever done in an airplane. I answered, "I once flew jumpers." The interviewers did that knowing eyebrow raise of understanding ;).

The places that I know of don't pay the pilots except in flight time. The airplanes that I flew were fraking scary. I didn't feel much safer even while wearing a parachute.

Overall, just be careful and don't do anything that you are unsure about. If your gut doesn't like it, don't do it.

Look into the Civil Air Patrol if you want to do something that is a little more productive than just flying for that $100 hamburger.


Disclaimer - The above are my personal experiences flying jumpers. I realize that there are good jump schools out there. Just not the one I dealt with or the ones that I am aware of.
 

TXaviator

Well-Known Member
check out dropzone.com ... lots of listing in there... ive heard all the horror stories too... but use your head. should be fine.
 

moxiepilot

Well-Known Member
please don't fly for free.

that said - there are good reputable ops out there.

a common way to get paid is by jump load, not by the hour. which means that the quicker you get up and down the more money you make. that's where your liability comes in. cut corners, get the horns.

be careful
 

TXaviator

Well-Known Member
please don't fly for free.

that said - there are good reputable ops out there.

a common way to get paid is by jump load, not by the hour. which means that the quicker you get up and down the more money you make. that's where your liability comes in. cut corners, get the horns.

be careful
haha well yeah the flying for free? sounds sketchy already.

and please take enough gas for up AND down portions of the flight. ...hey, ive heard it before.
 

WAFlyBoy

Well-Known Member
I would be eager for any advice. I am a grown man with a family and must consider my liability exposure. Are there things to look out for in a jump operation (again, I have some exposure to several operations and am not naive about them)?
If you have a drop zone in mind, twenty minutes of conversation with the owner/operator should give you an idea of what kind of business he/she is running. Track down current/previous pilots that worked the operation and talk to them. Ask who does maintenance on the aircraft and talk to them.

You should probably be most concerned in the owner/operators interest in safety and compliance with regulations. Some examples: aircraft maintenance, pressure on the pilot to fly when the weather isn't suitable, and (in some cases) pressure to takeoff overweight for conditions. (For example, when TO weight might be limited due to a/c structure & density altitude. This might sound obvious, but it's easy to forget the basic stuff on a busy day.)

Dumb question; are jump pilots typically paid? Or is the accrued flight time considered the compensation?
When I was dropping jumpers, I got paid $1 per body. Not a great way to make money if you're flying a 182 or 206. But with turbine equipment you could do fairly well on a busy weekend (at least by jump pilot standards). You also may be required to fuel the aircraft and fill O2 tanks (if required).

At the right drop zone, it can be a lot of fun. Good luck and fly safe.
 

slushie

C56X ATP CFII MEI
DO NOT FLY FOR FREE...or cheap.
please.

It's dangerous.

It gets more dangerous when people want you to do unsafe or illegal things.

But it's freaking fun.

Once we almost had a bunch of girls go up naked.
Poor weather put that idea to an end.
 

TXaviator

Well-Known Member
DO NOT FLY FOR FREE...or cheap.
please.

It's dangerous.

It gets more dangerous when people want you to do unsafe or illegal things.

But it's freaking fun.

Once we almost had a bunch of girls go up naked.
Poor weather put that idea to an end.
naked skydiving!!! woooo!!
 

twdeckard

New Member
Any practical advice?

* Make sure you are a named insured on the insurance policy?

* Make sure to check that the floaters are not intending to surf the horizontal stabilizer?

* Meet the jumpmaster before you are boarding?

- What do folks get paid an hour/a load for a 182/206?
 

splash

your social justice comic center
I have about 100 hours pushing people out a 182. I enjoyed it. It's hard on the engine. Full power all the way up to 10,000'. I gained good flying experience doing this. Go for it. I was getting payed $4 a head. 4 heads max per load. Keep in mind that if anything happens you have a chute on and you are right over the airport the whole time. I practiced emergency spot landings all the way down trying to never add power. I never ran out of gas. It is not dangerous. I was never asked to do unsafe or illegal things. Go for it.
 

splash

your social justice comic center
Wait...What? surfing the hor. stab! Do you mean hung up on the stab. Never heard of surfing it but if they are hung up you jump out of that plane, buddy. I don't think you would be able to maintain control of the aircraft. They do give you a knife just in case their pilot chute comes out prematurely. That rarely happens. Just make sure when they get into the plane that it is shoved tightly all the way into their pack. Dude, are you serious about those other questions? Of course you will meet the jump master before you board the aircraft. It's no airline ticket or something. Yes, get to know him and what he wants you to do. Insurance... they should have you sign paper work before you start flying for them and it covers your insurance question in the paperwork. Like in anything some places are shady. I don't think they are going to just throw you to the wolves the first time you start flying jumpers and say here you go giving you the keys to the plane. Use your common sense unless you are already programed and set to the major airlines. :laff:
 

slushie

C56X ATP CFII MEI
* Make sure you are a named insured on the insurance policy?
or more realistically, that you are included in the release of liability.

* Make sure to check that the floaters are not intending to surf the horizontal stabilizer?
Cover the keys with your hand on your first couple runs.

- What do folks get paid an hour/a load for a 182/206?
$10/load, $4/head...all sounds normal.

Also, pro-active collision avoidance is key since you're always climbing or decending
 

TXaviator

Well-Known Member
hah. nothing wrong with surfing off parts of the plane! buddy of mine who flew skydivers said he had guys hang off the leading edge of the wing in the 182 and shimmy their way out to the end... then transfer to hanging by their feet/knees, and backflip off the front edge of the wing!!

and also guys in the twotter would shimmy out the door onto the top of the empennage... make their way to the vert stab.... and ride it like titanic before bailing out backwards....

crazy stuff.
 

twdeckard

New Member
Cover the keys with your hand on your first couple runs.
Now thats some good advice! I [ahem] knew of an operation where the checkout included the jump-master/instructor pilot snatching the keys on his way out. They figured if you couldn't park it on the airport from 10,000ft overhead then you wouldn't manage it well enough if the rubber band broke very early in the climb, especially with the unbelted passengers and especially with the crappy equipment they flew.

... Also it was a test, if you came back after that stunt you were probably cool to party with.
 

Cptnchia

Dissatisfied Customer
Cover the keys with your hand on your first couple runs.
We went and made extra keys that we would hide in the airplane when that happened! Also, keep in mind that it's YOU who control how high the jumpers get, and they always want to go as high as they can. So if they start to get out of control, just turn jump run and tell them they have 20 seconds to sit down and shut up, or you'll start desending.

Oh, and night loads are fun, but not as fun as nude loads!
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
Interesting reading all this. I think some drop zones must be very different from others.

The place I work at is a small weekend-only DZ with a 182. I've worked there for almost a year and I can honestly say nothing scary has ever happened to me and I've never been pushed to do anything I wasn't comfortable with.

Safety is always top priority. The plane is old but very reliable and well maintained. All the regs are followed. They also haven't had a significant injury to any jumper in 8 years, mainly because of good quality training and being smart about wind conditions. The DZ owner and managers have made it clear to all the jumpers that there is a hierarchy of power in the world and it goes like this: God, the pilot, the jumpmaster, then you. None of the jumpers have ever given me a hard time about anything because they know the management always backs up the pilot decisions, plus if they pull any crap like pulling the keys on their way out, that'll be the last jump they ever make with me as their pilot--not because I'll quit working there, but because I'll never let them set foot in my plane again.

Maybe I got in at an exceptionally good place. I don't know. It's the first jump pilot job I've ever had.

That being said, I've met some real characters who fly jumpers. I don't know why, but this line of work seems to attract a disproportionally high percentage of pilots who have less than stellar judgement. I met one guy who straight up said he descended faster than Vne on a regular basis.

I like being able to say I have the experience of flying jumpers (it truly is good experience), I don't like being associated with the typical "jump pilot stereotype" though.
 
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