Have you ever thought about all the different people that make the drop zone function each day? There are many different jobs in skydiving, not just being a skydive instructor. In fact, not all of them involve jumping out of the airplane! A drop zone is a very fun atmosphere to have a job, and even if you are not a skydive instructor, you can still be part of the action. Lets take a look at all the different jobs in skydiving, and all the positions around the DZ that make each skydiving day possible.
So the pilot is a pretty obvious drop zone job! We love our pilots. They take us to great altitude safely and as quickly as possible. Pilots work long hours at the drop zone. Just think about it – they are working from the start of the jumping day until the end. Skydiving pilots often work to build their hours so they can move on further in their flying careers. Also, some pilots just really like the fun vibe of the drop zone and skydivers, so this is where they prefer to work. Either way, pilots fly the aircrafts to their utmost best to provide us all with a safe and fun skydiving day. So be sure to buy your pilot a beer if you see him at the bar at the end of the day!
A lot of the time, you don’t even see your drop zone rigger throughout the day. They are often hiding away in their rigging loft, working away on gear. Their job does not just include repacking reserve canopies. Riggers can be relining canopies, patching parachutes or even modifying containers and harnesses. Its always fun to go have a chat with your DZ rigger because they are very knowledgeable. Most of the time, if they are not busy, they are happy to discuss gear questions you may have.
The person working ground control at the DZ can be a jack of all trades sort of worker. They are responsible for a number of things in each jumping day. Some duties include, making sure our landing areas are free of obstacles, for example a vehicle or wandering person. They also keep our landing pattern indicator accurate. Monitoring weather conditions and keeping a very close eye on all parachute traffic. Ensuring rules are followed and skydivers make it back to DZ. Ground control also keeps communication with other aviation activities in the area. In the unfortunate instance of an injury, ground control ensures medical assistance is contacted. These guys are busy throughout the day and have a lot to manage!
Of course at the drop zone we have skydiving instructors. We will see both AFF and tandem instructors busy throughout the day. At some drop zones the teams are divided, but often instructors are multi-rated. This means they can be manifested to take tandem passengers, or to take students learning to skydiving through the Accelerated Freefall program.
Videographers have an awesome job of getting to film the faces of people who are often making their very first skydives. Mostly videographers are capturing tandem skydives, so they jump with the tandem instructor and their student. The videographer performs by flying around the tandem, creating a great keepsake video for the passenger. However, videographers are also along for some AFF jumps if requested, and some even become professional cameramen. Professionals can be invited to film experienced skydivers jumps. With more experience, they can be hired to work skydiving events to film the jumps and create content for event.
Drop Zone Owner
DZO is the big guy (or girl) in charge of everything. The drop zone owner is most likely a skydiver, or used to be one. They know a lot about the operations of a skydiving facility. It is hard work to over look a whole drop zone, and that is why the DZO will have office staff to help out. It can be a hard job also in a sense where you are buddies with your skydiver clients. So be sure to cut the DZO some slack when he has to make tough decisions. He needs to run and business and please all of us skydivers.
Safety and Training Advisor (S&TA)
The S&TA officer is a position at USPA affiliated drop zones. The officer at the drop zone is appointed by a USPA Regional Director. Generally speaking the are very, very experienced and knowledgeable skydivers with thousands of jumps and years in the sport. The S&TA provides advice and training to skydivers, verifies licensing tests and renewals for ratings. They may be called upon to help plan special jumps such as new aircraft or night jumps. There is a long list of responsibilities for the S&TA. They obverse skydiving operations to ensure all Basic Safety Requirements are followed and they also may need to report reoccurring violations. In the event of an skydiving incident, the S&TA is responsible for reporting and possible investigating the incident. This is just a brief overview of the many responsibilities of the safety and training advisor.
These guys and gals are hard workers! Packers at the drop zone are hustling all day, even after the jumping is all done. A packer at the drop zone is there to work for whoever needs a pack job. Tandem parachutes, student and rental gear, and sport jumpers. However, packers can be hired to specifically pack for a team who is training. The day is long for a parachute packer. Most often once the day is done and everyone is cracking a beer, the packers are usually still working. Packing the gear from the last loads of the day. Throughout the day, be sure to stop by and offer them a cold drink on a hot summer day. Or even a snack. Some days they hardly get a moment of rest.
Another important job at the drop zone is the manifest. The persons working manifest are responsible for organizing the skydiving day. They do their best to encourage jumpers to sign up for loads so that they can keep the plane running. Manifest is great at keeping the day running functionally, with clear gear calls, scheduling fuel loads, and organizing groups into specific loads. This can become especially challenging on busy days. Or when events are happening and multiple groups are wanting to jump together. Manifest does their best to keep everyone happy. Don’t forget manifest also must organize students and tandem passengers with available skydive instructors.
Keep in mind manifest works long days, and often don’t get out of the manifest desk all day. And so remember to smile and be nice. Check out our article dedicated to our lovely manifest staff!
Drop zones have skydive coaches that are available for skydivers when needed. Coaches are able to make recurrency jumps for people coming back after a skydiving break. They are also able to jump with lower level skydivers to help them practise their basic skills, getting them ready to jump with others or to get their next license.
Many drop zones offer load organizers. LO’s are there to create group jumps for skydivers. Usually LO’s have a decent skill set and are able to share their knowledge with skydivers who want to get better at flying in their discipline. A load organizer is making sure to create jumps that are accessible to the skydivers levels. This allows people are able to learn how to jump safely in a group and improve their skydiving skills. Load organizer’s share knowledge by providing briefings before and after the jump. It is great to have LO’s available at the drop zone because they often create a flow and keep people jumping throughout the day. People do not need to search for someone to jump with, because the LO is get people together.
Often you won’t see the office staff at the drop zone, but they do exist. Remember that skydiving centres are businesses. There is often receptionists, administrative workers and accounting staff that you do not see. However, they work closely with the DZO to keep the business running. Office staff can often be forgotten about, but they are one of the different jobs in skydiving.
The maintenance staff is keeping the skydiving facility in order. Maybe you do not know who they are. Or maybe they are skydivers working for some extra cash or jump tickets. Maintenance staff take care of the lawn, mowing the grass in the packing or landing area, emptying the garbage and keeping the bathrooms tidy. Basically another jack of all trades, and another key worker in making our skydiving facilities run smoothly.
Keep coming back
As you can see, there are a lot of different jobs in skydiving. Each drop zone job works to keep the facility running in a smooth and functional manner. Sometimes we forget all that goes on to ensure we have a fun and safe skydiving day. Be sure to keep in mind everyone’s hard work in their positions, and show your appreciation. Even just a friendly smile and and appreciative attitude goes a long day. We love our drop zone staff!
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