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Originally printed in issue #61 (January 2015) of Blue Skies Magazine.
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Well, it’s the start of a new year. Somehow we’ve managed to survive to TWENTY-FUCKING-FIFTEEN! Like a lot of you out there, I really didn’t think I’d see 2015, not because I thought some bad shit would befall me, or the end of the world would actually fuckin’ happen, but simply ‘cause I don’t think that damn far ahead. Well, this time I’m trying to think ahead a bit more, so I’m starting out the new year of articles by answering some questions from those readers out there who shot them my way.

Rhys Kempen asks, “What’s the worst type of aircraft you’ve flown, and why?”
Well that’s an easy one without a doubt. The single worst aircraft I have ever flown was a 1964 straight tailed Cessna 182. To be honest, while that type of plane is pretty great, this specific one was total and complete shit! Like a lot of jump planes, next to nothing worked, including the door which would rarely say closed, and once closed, decide to open at totally inappropriate times (like at 800’ with a tandem student close by). The GPS was a yoke-mounted brick of a thing whose gray screen with nothing on it simply mocked you by not giving you any of the information it had been placed there for, which believe it or not didn’t affect spotting all that much. Why, you ask? Because to spot this particular 182, all you had to do as the pilot was look down between your feet at the gaping hole between the rudder pedals and you would have a lovely unobstructed view of the ground below. It pissed oil all over the place. It pissed fuel all over the place. I pissed all over the place pretty regularly every time it scared the shit out of me, and I honestly loved every minute of it. It was my first ever jump plane, and if I’m not mistaken, I think it’s still out there flying jumpers somewhere over the skies of Texas …

Princess Athena Bob asks, “Extra altitude?”
I wish I could say this one was near and dear to my heart, but I’ve been living in a titty-free zone for a few years now. Truth is though, even when I was still flying jumpers in the States, there was a drastic lack of extra altitude being given in recent years. I hate to say it, but the ladies have been seriously lacking not only in their attempts to treat jumpers to a little extra sky, but they’ve not been teaching the new girls entering our sport just how to spread the love. Look, we all love boobs. There should be no argument there. We all love extra altitude. Again, no argument, so ladies, get ‘em out! Show your pilot, your drop zone and indeed the entire sport a little bit of love!

Pilot Neal asks, “Piss poor pilot pay?”
If I actually think about this one too long, I’ll end up writing a rant of epic proportions, so let me simply say it sucks. Some drop-zone owners pay their jump pilots shit because they know jump pilots are by and large just looking to build hours. They adopt the Mikey Hawkes attitude of “Pilots are like dogs; you kick them till they run away, then you get a new one.” If you’re lucky enough to find a gig that takes care of you as they should, stick with it! Until pilots actually stand up for themselves and demand the treatment they deserve for all the training they’ve suffered through and responsibility they are given, they’re gonna get fucked. No lube, no thanks, no cab fare.

Johnny Perez asks, “What’s your worst malfunction, in the sky and on the ground?”
Well funny thing is, they both happened at the same time. While landing a Twin Otter after dropping load 7, everything went to absofucking hell. As soon as I let the nosewheel touch the ground, the entire aircraft starting shaking violently and lurching to the left very hard, pulling me off the runway and into some real deep shit! The terrible part was that the only thing on the whole damn plane not shaking apart was the tiller handle which controls the steering on the ground. I had to pull full reverse power on my right engine, full brakes on the right side, and even add a little power from the left engine to keep from ending up completely fucked. The whole thing lasted all of about 10 seconds, and I ended up 10 feet from completely screwed. What happened? The pin that holds the nosewheel attached to the steering mechanism had popped out, and I was left landing the Otter with a nosewheel that acted like the screwed up wheel on a shopping cart. It took about an hour to clean the skid marks out of my shorts, and I think the skid marks are still on the damn runway.

Finally, Larry McFly asks, “Dean, How do you feel being out of the States? Do you miss working here?”
Well without a doubt, living and working fulltime outside the U.S. can be different. It took a while to get used to how things go here in the Land of Sand for certain. But after you’ve spent as much time as I have on the road back home, it’s pretty great to have a home base like I have now. The best part? Even though I’m not in the States, I am surrounded by jumpers from every DZ I’ve ever jumped at, flown at or been to in my career. I have a constant influx of old faces, and a growing list of new ones that never cease to impress me, make me laugh or just scratch my head. There are just as many amazing people out here, and just as many fucktards, so to be honest, other than the scenery, because of our little skydiving family, I still feel very much at home! Except of course for the lack of titties in the plane, as they are illegal here!

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