What is it that makes a dropzone? It´s simply the ability to get from the ground and into the air, and a space in which to land safely. Everything else is optional.
from small volunteer clubs to huge multi-aircraft franchises. Every place has advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. A small place where you can find the closest and warmest human connections maybe cannot offer the altitude or jump numbers that you want. At a big place you can perhaps jump from dawn to dusk, but the business model and the scale of the operation can sometimes mean that meaningful personal experiences get lost in the noise. For the most part we are lucky that we can travel, not being limited to jumping at a single dropzone – a tool box of locations available for our needs with a ready made pool of friends when you arrive.
There are some dropzones where the quality is in the balance. UPCS is located in Hohenems, in the far West of Austria – a stones-throw for the Swiss border and a little North of where the Alps begin to get really big. The scenery here would be considered excellent, if only it were not a short drive from some of the best landscapes on Earth. They have a turbine Caravan, which is good – remembering that in central Europe you are never far from a choice of turbines. A lot of things here are good, but it is when you add them all up together they make it great. Everything is clean, tidy and well organised. Even the glider pilots on the airport are friendly.
A lot of the time dropzones are in the middle of nowhere, requiring transportation of some kind to get to and from civilisation. UCPS is just a short distance outside of Hohenems, a picturesque, posh little town with nice cafes. It is right on the road that leads a few kilometers into Dornbirn – a larger and more functional area with supermarkets and such. Not only can you easily walk to any number of shops and restaurants, the small roads that border the hangar and landing area are popular with walkers, cyclists and even horses – which make you feel connected to the locals in a way that not many places do.
RSU is a charity project developed by Adrian Fenner – a Swiss tech business guy and tunnel instructor at Windwerk. The idea is that from any event they put on 50% goes to charity and 50% goes into the next plan. While this is a commendable idea by itself, the impressive part is the attention to detail that is immediately apparent. RSU have invested in a system by which they can run events from top to bottom from anywhere they choose. They have a trailer that serves in the daytime as a manifest office (including screens) and then in the evening becomes the bar (including a brewery sponsorship!). Also on hand is a kitchen setup with which the whole event can (and is) fed at both lunchtime and in the evening. With something like this you can tell how the big parts are going to go by looking at the small parts, and when there are named personal cups for the duration of the event to reduce waste, you get the feeling that it is going to go well.
In usual years there are a lot of events to choose from, and it is the things that stand out from usual that resonate most. A mobile event setup that can operate smoothly either within the workings of a dropzone or somewhere completely independent has the potential to do very well and generate a loyal following.
The RSU event in Hohenems goes by Hillz Skillz, and with the combined efforts of both teams it is a good time. The dropzone and the RSU project are side-gigs for their respective operators but the quality and efficiency on display make this difficult to believe. Running a dropzone takes all-consuming effort, and executing events has more moving parts than many people are aware of. The Cypres road tour goes to a lot of places of all shapes and sizes, and it is always great to hear that when it comes to planning events that a dropzone wants to do things better and better before bigger and bigger. With how things have been in 2020 we were lucky to be able to go to Hohenems, and are looking forward very much to going back.
RSU already have dates ready for a couple of their charity boogies in 2021 and can be found on their website here https://www.rainbowshittingunicorn.com
UPCS Hohenems have a Summer boogie planned for July under the name of their on-site CYPRES store and rigging operation Westsky, which can be found here http://www.westsky.at