Letters | Aug 01, 2018

Camden Gonzalez

Learning About Piloting

I love that Parachutist now has a column [“The Front Office,” a bimonthly article by flight instructor and former jump pilot Chas Hines] devoted to jump pilots! It's funny that we as skydivers spend more time in aircraft than we do in freefall or under canopy, and yet we tend to know remarkably little about what that pilot does or how that aircraft manages to get our (sometimes) whiny butts to altitude.

I began skydiving in 2006, which eventually awoke a childhood dream to become a pilot. In 2011, I earned my private pilot certificate, followed shortly by my instrument rating and then my commercial certificate … thanks in large part from instructing a handful of tandems on the weekends. My first time flying jumpers felt weird, as if I were somehow about to perform in a play only to find myself standing in the wrong place on stage as the curtain came up. Nothing can quite describe the feeling of having a plane full of skydivers one moment—with the buzz of energy that tends to fill the aircraft upon nearing jump run—to the solitude and silence of an empty aircraft the next.

I certainly hope to see Chas Hines' articles continue, and I encourage every licensed skydiver out there to go take a flying lesson or two, if for no other reason than to appreciate the workload a jump pilot has to endure. (Pay particular attention to the lesson on weight and balance.) I promise you will see your jump pilot in a new light and may even understand the incredulous look he or she gives you when you tap them on the shoulder and ask, "What's the spot?" while climbing through 12,000 feet.

Camden Gonzalez   |   D-29793

Manassas, Virginia

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