A Day in the Life of a Jump Pilot
Kicking people out of perfectly good airplanes, (the second best job on the Drop Zone!)
Yes they get to wear cool aviator sunglasses, and yes they get to watch passengers jumping out the door… but isn’t it just like flying a regular airplane?
Turns out that flying a jump plane is a little more complicated than that…
Jump pilots start their day a little earlier than the rest of the team, giving them plenty of time to check the weather and do their pre-flight inspection of the aircraft. No matter what plane you fly in, big or small, this is done at the start of each flying day to check that everything is where it should be, there’s plenty of oil and fuel for the first flight, and there are no birds nesting in the engine!
When checking the weather, your pilot takes particular notice of the winds, as they can be significantly different at 14,000ft to on the ground and they need to factor this in when deciding where to let you out…we want the wind to carry you and your Tandem Master gently to the landing area, not past it.
Then it’s a matter of cleaning the windows and getting rid of the sweaty finger and forehead prints from the day before…we can’t think what is making all these passengers so nervous, our pilots are really good and the view is spectacular!
Before taking off for the first flight of the day the pilot will run the plane for awhile on the ground, letting it warm up so they can do checks on the engine and various other important parts, such as the flaps (for take off and landing) and carb heat (which stops the engine cooling too quickly on descent).
So, now the pilot is ready… and the plane is ready… all that’s missing are the passengers!
The last thing the pilot checks before taking a load of passengers up is the manifest board, so they know how many people are going to get out and at what height they want to get out at…that’s fairly important, right?
Out to the plane we go!
With everybody comfortable, buckled up and raring to go, the pilot will taxi out, take-off and spend the next 15-20min keeping in touch with the other traffic in the air as they climb out over Geographe Bay to your chosen jump height.
The pilot then gets really busy just as you’re getting really excited? Nervous?…ready to jump! They’re slowing the plane down and keeping it level, to make it safe for you to get out; talking to the other traffic in the area to keep them out of your way and keeping an eye on everyone to make sure they exit the plane safely.
Then they’re all alone, with the wind rushing past (they don’t have anyone to shut the door once you all jump out!) and on descent…ready to land, refuel and do it all again.
We asked Ben, (our Jump Pilot) what he enjoys most about his job, and he said: “It’s always a great vibe in the airplane. I get to meet loads of different kinds of people, who are all having the time of thier lives. It’s great to be a part of that life-changing moment when someone first jumps out of my perfectly good airplane!”