This Blog post is meant to explain the controversial Use It Or Lose It calendar used by Skydive Allegan to schedule jumping activities.
First, a little history and what drove us to implement the calendar to begin with. Prior to 2016 Skydive Allegan primarily jumped on Saturday and Sunday when we were likely to have tandems scheduled and if the weather was good it was pretty much a given that we would be jumping. This worked well for the weekend days however weekday jumping had no structure and was lackluster at best. A small handful of jumpers would beg us to get a pilot for say Thursday and three people would show up to fly maybe two or three loads. This took a tremendous amount of coordination and work for very little gain. From a business standpoint this didn’t make much sense.
Additionally, the social media platforms utilized by the drop zone were only being used by a small percentage of the experienced jumpers making it difficult to get the word out that we were jumping.
The UIOLI calendar was built even after it was said it couldn’t be done and that it wouldn’t work. To date we have over 100 experienced skydivers and students with access to add events to the calendar. We are currently jumping five days a week when the calendar is full.
How it works: Once you give the drop zone an email associated with Google you are added to UIOLI with permission to add and edit events. You simply create an event (the event being your name) on the day your coming out and fill in the information about the time you will be there before saving. Once the event is saved everyone with access to UIOLI can see you are coming and when you will be there. The caveat is you have to make sure you choose the UIOLI calendar and don’t post to your personal calendar or only you will see the event. Currently it takes eight people to sign up for a day and we will schedule a pilot and aircraft. Additionally, this can be useful when we have multiple aircraft running because the more people on the calendar the better chance we will secure a pilot for the second aircraft giving the experienced jumpers and students their own airplane for the day. You are highly encouraged to use the calendar every time your planning to come out so the drop zone can try to maximize your experience.
The whole picture: Along with the UIOLI calendar you also get access to read the tandem, staff, pilot and events calendars. When all of the calendars are active on your device you can see all experienced jumpers scheduled to be out, how many tandems we have for the day, who will be on staff, which aircraft are being flown and by who, and any special events going on. This gives you a snapshot of how busy the DZ will be and can allow you to plan your day at the drop zone accordingly.
Students: Students using the UIOLI calendar are asked to add (student) behind their name. This will ensure we are staffed appropriately when you visit to maximize your training and may help expedite your navigation through the student program.
When do you have to get on the calendar: The drop zone requires a minimum of 24 hours prior to jumping to secure a pilot and have a chance to look at the weather to make sure we have a fair chance to jump. Don’t wait until the last minute to start a group.
What days can you jump: We jump Wednesday through Sunday 24 hours a day if you have enough people to secure a pilot and aircraft.
Can you just show up and not use the calendar: Yes. You are not required to use the calendar to come out and jump however, it will only be a matter of time before you could have made the difference between jumping or not or getting the second aircraft. It is in everyone’s best interest to use the calendar. Technically, if you see an aircraft and pilot on the calendar we will be jumping however if no one but tandems are on the calendar we may do the tandem jumps and close up shop early.
Does the calendar update automatically when we cancel: No. The calendar shows what we are planning for a particular day. Jumpers are encouraged to look to Facebook for weather updates or call the drop zone phone at (269) 998-7747 to make sure we are jumping before coming out.
In closing: The UIOLI calendar along with the other drop zone calendars have been built to help us be more efficient and hopefully more profitable. Running a drop zone in Michigan is tough. We are open for seven months and of those three are hopefully profitable. If we are going to keep this thing going we need the help of everyone to streamline the process. Get in the habit of using the calendar and it will become second nature. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the calendars or to get help with technical issues.
Thank you for your participation and patronage.
See you at the drop zone