How To Avoid Having A Skydiver For A Hood Ornament


Pilots are often nervous about flying into or around airports with skydiving operations. There’s really no need to be, as Paul Bertorelli explains in this AVweb video. Just avoid the airport by three or four miles on the downwind side when transitioning and don’t overfly a dropzone airport if you’re landing there. Just fly a normal (not too tight) pattern.

Thanks to Ed Scott at Jumpers Away for assistance in producing this video.

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  1. As a 23 year skydiver and Jumpmaster I did NOT want to be a “hood ornament.” Jumped all over the US and incursions were rare but did happen. The worst incursion in my memory was at Dillingham on the North Shore of Oahu in the late ’70’s. Some guy in a Hughes 300 appeared and hovered a few feet above the landing area kicking up dust and dirt with the rotorwash and laughing. Sooo, one of the jumpers, who was a Huey pilot at Schofield Barracks, grabbed some pea gravel, stood tossing it up and down in his hand so the pilot could see him, and looking at the tail rotor. The 300 pilot suddenly pulled pitch and left in quite a hurry.

    • There ain’t no such thing as a perfectly good airplane. Plus, airplanes only crash when they hit the ground – skydivers remove that event from their loop.

      Besides, if riding in an airplane is called “flying”, then sitting in a boat should be called “swimming”. If you want to experience the element, get out of the vehicle!

      • Remember a t-shirt from long ago which read “Only skydivers know why the birds sing” with pictures of a jumper falling head down surround by birds diving down with him.
        D-14235 POPS 3668 JOS 819

    • I want to apologize for my factually incorrect comment. I was clearly still under the influence of generic NyQuil when I referred to jump planes as “perfectly good airplanes”. And I don’t find fault with anyone that wants to jump out of one, even if it means landing in New Jersey.

  2. I have a hard enough of a time just to get a passenger. Let alone one that wants to jump out

  3. Excellent presentation with promotion/introduction of practical behaviors in that environment. I became a skydiver before becoming a pilot and Cessna jump pilot, with lots of Otter2 right seat time to learn the routine. Different aircraft and Drop Zones develop local habits based on factors like airspace use, noise abatement, multiple landing areas for varied skydiving disciplines, etc. My Cessna descent is much different in terms of rate and locale than a large turbine. If you fly in and out of Drop Zone airfields often, it might pay to speak to the jump pilot to learn about the flight profile, and watch a flew loads land. The least predictable group are student jumpers not responding to radio help from the ground (radio actually not required), but other factors can cause more experienced jumpers to land on areas of the airfield not intended. Head on a swivel any where near the pattern. Don’t let your eyes focus on just the clump of jumpers doing well; it’s that outlier that will surprise you. And jump pilots, pls take your time on the CTAF call to emphasize your airfield at the end of the call. Slow down, and repeat. I can hear 6 DZs on 122.8 in my drop area. Cross Keys NJ pilots excel at good calls. I don’t fly there, just pointing out good practices. I’m going to share this presentation at my next EAA Chapter meeting. Thanks, Paul.