Tuesday, September 27, 2022

DZO and Pilot Resources

Flight Operations Handbook

The Flight Operations Handbook, originally by Ray Ferrell, is an in-depth template to be used to cover a variety of topics related to aircraft procedures and pilot training for skydiving operations. It includes sections on several popular skydiving aircraft, and pilot flight competency and proficiency checks. This Word document may also be edited to suit company needs.

Flight Operations Handbook

Jump Pilots: Connect with USPA

Sign up to receive the latest news and information about jump operations. By signing up, you agree to receive information from USPA about jump aircraft operations, including the monthly USPA Professional e-newsletter that is sent to other skydiving professionals such as drop zone operators, USPA rating holders, USPA Safety & Training Advisors and USPA judges. Welcome to the team! Your information will only be used for this purpose. There is no fee and you may unsubscribe at any time by using the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the emails. View USPA's Privacy Policy.



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DZ Marketing Tools

Drop zones can get positive media coverage by inviting local news outlets to attend DZ events and by providing information about the sport and the drop zone. DZs can tailor these template materials with their own information.

Fact Sheet
Learn To Skydive
Media Advisory
Handling the Media After an Accident

FAA Regulations and Guidance

Review applicable regulations for conducting parachute operations, see historical and current FAA guidance and read about airport access. Also available are FAA Advisory Circulars “Recommended Standard Traffic Patterns and Practices for Aeronautical Operations at Airports without Operating Control Towers” and “Sport Parachuting,” along with the FAA regulatory requirements for ATC Notification and Authorization and FAA inspector guidance for DZs.

DZO & Pilot Resources

The Front Office | Weather Sources

Monday, April 1, 2019

“The Front Office” answers questions about jump pilots and piloting. You’ll learn what pilots do behind the scenes to make your favorite time of week happen, and you’ll get a one-of-a-kind view from the one seat in the airplane you never get to be in.


Meteorologists do their best to collect weather data from a seemingly infinite number of sensors, stations, satellite imagery, radar antennas, etc. to provide forecasts. The beauty of having the wealth of knowledge from sources such as the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association is that pilots and skydivers get surprisingly accurate data to sift through to make their flying and jumping decisions. Pilots typically obtain weather information during a preflight weather briefing, an official process conducted by computer or telephone. While there are almost endless sources of unofficial weather forecasts and reports (some of them incredibly prolific and accurate), just a few offer aviation-specific (and legally supporting) information. The airlines call these primary sources.

Although your pilot will get a standard weather briefing from an official primary source that jumpers may not have access to, jumpers can get most of that same information from services such as the Aviation Weather Center. This site, found at aviationweather.gov, includes NWS information and plentiful imagery and is relatively painless to use if you know what you are looking for. 

To get a cursory picture of what the weather is going to look like in the near future, access the seven-day forecast by going to the Local Forecast tab and typing in your city and state. You’ll see the typical current temperature of the nearest reporting location, the forecast for high and low temperatures and expected phenomena (like cloud cover or rain). If you scroll down, you’ll also see the nearest available NEXRAD radar reflection, infrared satellite image, a graphical plotting of the hourly weather forecast and even temperature and precipitation graphical forecasts. This is probably sufficient for most skydivers, who want a solid idea of what’s going to happen with information straight from the source.

Jump pilots (and more ambitious skydivers) will also look at METARs (Meteorological Aerodrome Reports), which are mostly automated and entirely airport specific; and TAFs (Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts), which are 24- and sometimes 30-hour revolving forecasts for the airport area. If your DZ reports weather conditions (usually through a station called an ASOS or AWOS), there will be a recorded log of those conditions, which is an important consideration for pilots who are interested in legally following the visual flying conditions that the regulations require of all aircraft.

You can access METARs by clicking on the tab on the AWC main page and entering your airport ID (ask your pilot for this) in the “request METAR data” box and checking “include TAF.” The next page will show you a coded, nerd-pilot version of the weather report and forecast. Assuming you aren’t interested in learning how to decode this stuff, just check the little box marked “decoded” and you’ll get a couple of pages of the same information but written in plain English. Hooray!

You can also get your own winds-aloft information. From the METARs page or the AWC homepage, click on the Forecasts tab and select “winds/temps” from the dropdown menu. Scroll down that page and you will see a map of the U.S. with each forecast location plotted by a red dot. Click where your DZ is on this map, and the next page will be a list of the winds aloft and forecast temperatures in a coded format. While your DZ may not be in the exact location as the listed forecast areas, the closest one should be good enough. Keep in mind that the altitudes listed are above sea level, meaning you must subtract your DZ’s elevation to know the forecast when referencing your skydiving altimeter, which shows your altitude above ground level.

The tools described here should give you a pretty good idea of how pilots start to look at weather. Pilots are responsible for having all available information for any given flight. There are many more resources out there to learn, interpret and apply, and meteorology is certainly a subject worth learning about. Pilots’ and skydivers’ lives surely depend on it!


Chas Hines | C-41147
FAA Certified Flight Instructor and Airline Transport Pilot