Jump Pilot Adventure......

A1FlyBoy

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Ok,

I'm locked in with an east coast outfit to fly a jump plane for them this spring/summer season. We've discussed the different aspect of what this type of flying entails, things to expect / to look out for, and training sessions will take place once I'm out there before the season begins.

For those of you who have done jump piloting before, is it realisitic to even think about getting 500 hours for the season? Weekends I hear are just crazy and 4 or 5 flights on weekdays are expected, weather permitting.

It seems like this will be a lot of fun and will be a learning experience.

I'm interested in hearing some of your stories, things you learned to do / NOT to do, what to look out for and be careful of, etc etc....
 

AWACoff

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Just flying weekends from Oct.15th until now, I've logged over 100 hours flying jumpers. This is in northern Wisconsin...during the winter... With the warmer weather (temps above 30 Fahrenheit), I've been logging about 5 hours a day Saturday and Sunday. During the student season, it'll be closer to 8 hours a day. This is at a small dropzone with only 2 C182s and 3 other small dropzones within 1 hours drive. If I'm going to be flying over 35 hours a month during student season (I started jumping so I will be doing that instead of flying whenever I can), you can certainly log 500 hours in a season. If you are doing the typical schedule of 6 days a week, you should be logging over 100hrs a month easy. See if you can get a couple of jumps during "training". Say it's a safety issue just in case you ever need to leave the aircraft in flight;)

Jumpers will try to get you to do things that are illegal. They don't neccasarily know that it's illegal. If they cause a problem, the FAA goes after the pilot, NOT them. CYA. Go to the website www.DiverDriver.com
The moderator is an RJ captain and flies a Twin Otter out of Skydive Chicago (as well as having a ton of jumps). The site has great info. Most important of all....have FUN. Jumpers are the strangest passengers you will ever kick off your aircraft.
 

AWACoff

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One more thing....always eat lots of beans and drink lots of cheap beer. You're gonna need some ammo to fight back with. Whoever said "like a fart in the wind" has never been in a jump aircraft. No matter how windy it gets in the plane...you just can't get some of those farts out of it...I've actually been dry heaving before on some of the really, really nasty ones. Some jumpers have puked after jumping out...yuck. Just don't puke in my plane!
 

skydiverdriver

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I've always wondered, what do skydivers do to cut loose? I have five jumps and about 500 hours flying jumpers. Watch out for poor operators with questionable maintenence. Don't do anything that would get you in trouble. They will ask you to, and if they threaten to fire you, just walk away. It will be worth it, trust me. Once you have a hundred hours flying jumpers, other DZ's will want you too. Jumpers get priority, so if you learn to skydive, all the better, but you don't have to.

Always get to know the rigger on the field. His knowledge could save your life. Have him look at the emergency rig they give you to fly with. One I was using had a pin that was jammed, and would have never come out of the hole. In other words, it would have been what they call a "hard pull." I probably would have bent the D ring on the way to my death.

Other than that, have a good time and be safe. I think flying jumpers was one of the most fun jobs I have ever had. Good luck.
 

bigD

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Dumb question...but how do DZ's handle insurance on the planes? Do they just buy cheap planes with cash and self insure? For example insurance for a low time pilot like myself would be no problem in something like a 182, but if they DZ is operating a Twin Bo, Otter, Caravan, or something in that class - any sane insurance company would demand a bunch of time in type, which of course the DZ isn't going to just give me. But at the same time I know of no place to rent a Twin Bo to get time in. So how do you get yourself into this class of plane?
 

navigator72

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Woo Hoo

I have about 500 hours of dropping jumpers in a C182. Skydivers are a crazy bunch. The big thing is to make sure the plane is airworthy. The skydive planes tend to be really old and the DZ owners usually don't put much money into the plane. remember you are the PIC, If it doesn't seem right to you DON'T DO IT.......!!
Goodluck and make sure you make a few jumps!
Where is the DZ?
 

00Dog

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Some great advice above. One thing to keep in mind is that the planes reach very high speeds and g's on the descents and they go through many cycles. One 205 I flew had a lot of cracks around the tail area so I recommend very thorough preflights, with a flashlight, and keep a close eye on anything that doesn't look right.
 

AWACoff

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I'm confused...how high of speeds can you do and still maintain CHTs? I don't recall pulling much more than 1G in any of my descents and I come down at 1500 to 2000fpm in a C182 at 130KIAS. The CHTs never got below 280 degrees fahrenheit and this was temps ranging from 10 above on the surface to 25 below up top. Cracks in the tail.....yikes.
 

skydiverdriver

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Most don't have insurance, not for the Cessna's, anyway. You're right, the cost would be prohibitive. It's a great way to log time, and even one guy I knew bought a King Air, and makes some money flying jumpers himself. Last I heard he had two of them going at one DZ. Good luck.
 

avbug

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You shouldn't be pulling "high g's" or high speeds in descents, or rushing anything. You can do the job flying normally.

Cracked heads and vertical stab support brackets are the result of low power on descent and slipping the airplane at high speeds. Anyone who has done much maintenance on 200 series Cessna's knows about cracked vertical stab attach brackets; very common. If the pilots who fly these airplanes had ever done the maintenance, they wouldn't do what they do.

Cracked flap trailing edges and flap tracks are the result of those who foolishly drop flaps to descend.

The airplane may be flown normally with little difficulty, and within limitations, without pulling excessive anything.

Forget insurance. Fly safe, don't crash, watch reserve handles, and don't let anyone on your airplane without an in-date reserve. Watch for drinkers or pot smokers; you're responsible for jumper actions when you carry them aloft to put them out; negligent entrustment is a bitch.

Carry enough fuel; don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Get some skydives yourself. It's a good investment, and a lot of fun. Blue skies, black death, and good luck!
 

Freight Dog

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Oh yeah... I can assure you you're bound to lose an engine at least once during your skydiver flying career flying those singles... All Cessnas I flew jumpers in had fuel bladders which get bad... I lost the engine twice, fortunately both times was after I dropped off the skydivers and was coming down..
 

ShawnC

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Short of aerobatics where its required by the FARs, I would hate to get any jobs that require you to wear an "emergency rig" its hard enough for me to get in the Cessnas (its more like strapping the plane on, not getting in) why does one think I would be able to get out easily.

Though I could see that when ones life is in danger, one is able to bend maybe just a little more to get out too live.
 

bigD

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Well crap Shawn - as a sailplane pilot I'd think having an engine pack it in would just make you more comfortable! =)
 

Joseph II

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1. Pray to God above that your jumpers chutes don't open while they are standing on the step. That *ALWAYS* got my heart going while they were in that vounerable location.

2. Always carry enough fuel, and get to know your aircraft. If they say the average pilot carries 25 gal for X amount of trips, carry extra until you get good. In the beginning (in a 182) it takes a bit to get used to getting on the jump run, closing the door, and the actual descent...

3. Don't let them talk you into doing anything illegal.

4. Have fun! I remeber it being a blast 99% of the time and as long as you make sure everything is safe, everyone has fun. (Besides you look cool when you land and get out of the airplane with the newbie jumpers family coming over to you asking you questions because you are a pilot!)


JOJO
 

ShawnC

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Actaully I was a little nervous before I went for my first sailplane ride. I still am a little just after the takeoff on tow (too little alititude to return to the field). But once you get to up there its nothing more than a engine out with much bigger wings.

Cheaper too.
 

jsoceanlord

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i flew divers about ten years ago; there was something about the pilot and his license being on the line if someone's chute didn't open and it was out of inspection.

the pilot's safety chute i was told was in case someone hung up on the tail!

we used to keep RPM's at 1700 in the descent to prevent shock cooling.

still it beats instructing
 

AWACoff

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The chute is required in the 182 because of access to an open door in flight. The Twin Otter pilots are not requied to wear chutes due to being in a separate cockpit. Our senior rigger told me that if I ever decide to use it...I need to jump out and pull immediately as getting to terminal before opening could lead to some problems (ie me getting hurt). Gotta love rounds!
 

aceshigh

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hey 00dog

Where'd you fly the 205 at? was it out of CHQ in MO?

Aceshigh
 

Huck

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I got about 300 hours in a jump plane.

1. Tail cracks come from slipping down. Planes are built to fly straight. Put it on 17 inches, 2500 rpm, and yellow line - it'll come down at 2000 fpm. I used to go round and round with the owner about that- she liked to hold full rudder in and spiral down - guess who ended up spending $5000 on sheet metal repair to the aft fuselage?

2. Write yourself a quick and dirty checklist, and use it every time. 1700 rpm, mag check, prop check, control sweep, carb heat, flaps and trim - something like that. You can do it while you taxi (don't tell my old CFI!). We had a jump plane crash near home recently - somebody banged up the control cables getting in and the yoke froze on takeoff. Use a checklist!

3. We had a "Beer Light." No drinking when the light was off; no flying when the light was on. Worked pretty good.
 

avbug

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Awacoff,

The reason you're told to get your ripcord pulled once clear of the airplane isn't that terminal openings will damage a round canopy. Round canopies are certified to the same standard that squares are, and must be capable of openings to the same speeds with the same loads. The stresses on the canopy apex are considerably more concentrated than any single point on a ram-air, and rounds have been known to burst.

However, fear of rounds and such issues come from people who don't know anything about them. Those of us who learned to jump on rounds, then PC's and then squares (ram air canopies) don't have any problem with. I learned to freefall under round canopies, and thought that Paracommanders were the cats meow when I moved to them. My only unintentional reserve ride was a round at terminal velocity. Not a big deal.

You're instructed to pull when you clear because you do NOT want to try to get stable and waste precious altitude. If you are an experienced skydiver and can handle flying clear of the bailout before pulling, that's one thing. Pilots using emergency rigs are generally told to clear and pull, period. It's a dummy exercise that keeps you from thinking too much and doing something stupid, like waiting until impact.

The parachute isn't required because of access to an open door; seatbelts take care of that. An emergency parachute is for emergencies. A reserve container open in the airplane, or a main container in some cases, is an emergency, regardless of weather it gets out the door. This is VERY serious, and if that reserve does get out the door and the jumper isn't pushed out right after it, the airplane is most likely raining down in pieces. You'll have access to an open door then; the whole airplane will be open, and it won't be flyable. Many potential scenarios can occur, like the recent midair collision between the Golden Knights Pilatus and a 182, to the loss of a Caravan in Australia when a reserve canopy opened, last month.

Joseph II, opening or letting a pilot chute get away on the step isn't a big issue if the person falls clear. Letting the canopy out inside the airplane is a very big deal, however.

You're not bound to lose an engine if you fly skydivers. Any more than bound to lose an engine doing something else. I've had engine failures with skydivers. I've also had them flight instructing, flying 135, fighting fires, and doing a number of other things. It happens. Several jump pilots have told me about having the keys pulled from the ignition by a jumper just prior to making a diving exit...and landing without power. I've never seen it or experienced it, though I can't imagine it being a big deal.

On this very board last year some fool replied to a thread on that subject and said that if a jumper ever did that to him, he'd crash the airplane in a nearby field to let the drop zone owner know how he felt about such actions. A surprising number of pilots expressed concern about having to make a power off landing after losing an engine in this manner from 10,000' over a hard surfaced runway. To those that are frightened of making such a landing, or who would intentionally land in the hay to make a point, I sincerely hope I never get saddled in the same cockpit with ya. Most pilots aren't that way, fortunately, and can take such things in the spirit they're intended. Fun. That's what it's all about.

If you're not prepared to deal with skydivers hanging by their toes from the leading edge of the airplane, pumpkin jumps, flying surfboards, stolen keys, and making a few skydives yourself, then stay away from the DZ. You'll only make it unpleasant for everyone else. If instead you enjoy hanging out with a great crowd, having a lot of fun, and generally having a good time, then head for the closest DZ, because you're always welcome!
 
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