Skydiving requires many safety measures
From: JaNaye Hoof, Victoria, formerly Lester Prairie
I have been reading about the contract issues with Winsted and Westside Skydivers and, having done a couple jumps there, I cannot help but feel the need to speak up on the issue. Have the individuals who are complaining or voting on the contract taken the time to go out to the dropzone and educate themselves about skydiving and how Westside runs their business? I know from my personal experience that prior to jumping, I had no idea what it took to jump or how a skydive business operated.
In regards to the noise of the Caravan, there is no nice way to put this. You live in a town with an airport so there are going to be airplanes and airplanes are loud. But, if you think the Caravan is loud, you should come out to Flying Cloud Airport and hear the T6’s or the jets. You won’t find the Caravan as loud. I know when I hear the Caravan flying over my parents’ house in Lester, I can’t help but look up and smile because I know everyone on board is about to experience the biggest thrill of their life and I am jealous that I am not on board with them!
From what I gather, no one is denying that jumps were made after the stated contract hours, which yes, is indeed a violation of the contract. But having jumped later in the day, it is really quite easy to see how this could happen. Westside tells you when you book your jump to be there well in advance of your jump. When you get there, before you can even get ready to jump you have to watch a safety video and sign a lengthy waiver. Then you learn about your skydive and what the instructors need you to do in order for you both to get back to the ground safely.
After your lesson, it is time to get suited up and board the aircraft. All of this takes time; you cannot rush someone through a waiver, safety lessons, through getting their gear on correctly, or boarding. I read that there was a suggestion made that Joe just tells the jumpers they can’t jump if it is getting too close to sunset.
Really? These individuals could have been there for over an hour, paid, trained, suited up and ready to go, but then someone on their load took extra long in the bathroom, or got really nervous and needed a bit more time before actually boarding the plane, or some other little thing you can’t plan for that delays a load (like some girl leaving her altimeter in the hangar and everyone has to wait for one to be brought to her . . . not that I ever did that). Is he just supposed to tell those people, “Sorry, come back another day? Do you really think that is good for business? Do you really think they would come back, or do you think they would decide that they are never coming back to Westside again?
I wish people from the area had been out at the dropzone either of the last two weekends to see how busy they are and the amount of people they bring to Winsted. I spent both Saturdays there and if I heard correctly, those two days combined for close to 200 tandems, and I didn’t know one single person who was there to jump or to watch! These people wouldn’t have just happened upon Winsted on a Saturday afternoon and decided to stop at one of the local businesses for food or drinks like so many of them do while either waiting to jump or after they jump.
When reading about the new contract negotiations, I found it interesting that it was even called a negotiation. It sounds like the city wants Joe to change everything to make the city happy, but they won’t budge on any item he requested.
Maybe the mayor and city council members should go out to Westside and learn about Westside’s business. Personally, I think they all should sign up for a tandem, especially later in the day, then they will see why people want to jump near sunset; the beauty of Winsted, the lakes, and really, the whole area at that time of day is truly indescribable.
But, if they don’t want to jump, the staff at Westside is awesome; they would explain what is going on and the whole process of getting people up and out.
If both parties understand where each other are coming from with their requests, it could make everything so much easier, and maybe situations like the current one can be resolved quickly, and avoided altogether in the future. I would hate to see Winsted lose a successful business and, quite honestly, I would hate to have to travel somewhere else to jump.