While visiting a DZ (not the one pictured above), I was witness to a wee bit of “tension” occurring at the window between a sport jumper and manifest that started to get a little loud. Listening in, it was clear that the fun jumper didn’t have a good sense of the big picture.
As a former manifester, I’ve got some insights to help you stay in good standing with those doing their best to keep you jumping all day and this applies to both instructors and sporties.
Let’s begin with the expression, “I know running manifest is the toughest job on the dropzone…”
Stop right there. The next word that follows is the word, “but”, and this is where you start going into bad territory because manifesters have heard this a thousand times. It’s become cliché and is most often said when someone’s about to spout off. Let’s be clear about something. Unless you’ve worked manifest, you truly have no idea how challenging this position is.
If you’re a DZ staff member feeling aggravated by the shutdown you think you could have met, or annoyed because you never heard the five-minute call or wasn’t given enough time to turn, I’m going to ask that you show a little patience.
THE TRUE MANIFEST JOB DESCRIPTION
”Have tremendous patience while multi-tasking for 12+ hours catering to people who don’t fully understand or appreciate the difficulty of what you’re trying to accomplish while smiling, holding your tongue and making it look easy.”
Running manifest is far more than writing names into open slots on a plane. It’s the ultimate multi-tasking challenge that comes without a training manual. The only way to get good at manifest is time… lots and lots of time.
MANIFEST WISH: Don’t show up at the loading area when the aircraft pulls up. You should be waiting for the aircraft; never the other way around. Small delays add up through the day only adding to inefficiency.
Manifest is an art form and it takes time to master it.
Here are three things every manifester would like you to know:
1. YOU DON’T HAVE THE WHOLE PICTURE
Few things frustrate manifest more than having someone run up to the window fuming because they somehow got screwed. This anger is usually misguided because other variables affect how things flow that not everyone is privy to. What you need to keep in mind is that manifest has a different sight picture than you do. While you’re viewing things from your frame of reference, manifest is walking the line between efficiency and speed that’s needing continuous readjustment. If a customer adds video at the last minute OR rigs won’t be packed in time for an upcoming load OR an instructor needs more time (or any number of other variables), this can throw off the big picture plan, and these are things you’re unaware of.
Give the benefit of the doubt. Manifest isn’t stupid… they’re juggling a lot of variables!
2. MANIFEST HAS MANY MASTERS
Sport jumpers, tandem students, AFF students, videographers, instructors, pilots, packers and DZ Management – these are the people manifest must try and satisfy and the common element between each group is time. Managing time for so many will result in someone getting upset at some point as the time requirements for each is different and it only takes someone asking for a little more time (without getting bumped from a load) that sends a chain reaction down the line that affects everyone.
MANIFEST WISH: [Staff Members] Don’t argue with manifest during a busy day about how you’ve been skipped in the rotation. Be cool about it and they can get you caught up, but showing your ass in the middle of the day while manifest is working hard to make many people happy… DON’T.DO.IT.
3. TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT’S HAPPENING IN MANIFEST
Below are some of the tasks manifest is managing. Seldom do any one of these happen one at a time, but usually simultaneously with other tasks:
- Radio comms from the pilot
- Radio comms from ground crew
- Radio comms from ops manager
- Jumper account management
- Payment transactions
- Manifesting loads for one or multiple aircraft
- Planning four and five loads ahead and factoring hot fuels
- Various announcements
- Awareness of packing times
- Awareness of packing times from packers, videographers and instructors
- Jumpers changing loads at the last minute
- Fuel management
- Off Landings
- Reconciliation of jump accounts
- Gear Checks
- Waiver management/check-in
MANIFEST WISH: If you’re visiting a DZ for the first time, be prepared. While manifest can look up your USPA membership status, they’d rather not. Have your USPA membership card, rig, logbook, and reserve repack information ready to go.
Slow check-ins distract manifest and pull their attention away from the other 17 things they need to be doing. These are just SOME of the tasks manifest faces on any given day… and it’s a LOT.
Remember: THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.
Relax and be patient with those trying to do their best for you and many other people. Be kind to manifest. :-)