July 23

New E-mail Address

While my personal E-mail address will still work, I’ve finally set up a business specific E-mail.

You can contact me now at david@windgod.com

July 22

Windgod.com Tunnel Rate

NOTE: I no longer can provide this rate since I do not work at the tunnel anymore. I can get you a reference if you are interested in getting this rate. In my experience, there were too many restrictions to make it a viable option, but you may be interested in working with a current iFly Instructor if you really need to stretch your budget. The time is limited to not only bulk time agreements, but also their off the clock availability.

I am so pleased to bring to everyone my special tunnel rate for iFly Loudoun.

Benefits:

-Bookable block (no need to worry about getting bumped)
-Includes Coaching (with me!)
-Better value than typical block time ($975/hr + Coaching)
-Bookable in 5, 10, 15, 30, or hour sessions
-iFly or 4k video available (bring your thumb drive)

$95/ 5 minutes ($19.00 per minute)
$175/ 10 minutes ($17.50 per minute)
$260/ 15 minutes ($17.33 per minute)
$520/ 30 minutes ($17.33 per minute)
$1040/ 60 minutes ($17.33 per minute)

$5100/ 5 hours ($17.00 per minute)

Steps to book:

1) Contact me about scheduling
2) Call iFly and confirm time availability
3) Place money on David Wingard’s account and make reservation

Booking Availability

Restrictions are in place to make iFly available for first time flyers during popular hours.

These are the same as if you had a block account:
Monday – Thursday: No restrictions
Friday: Restricted 3pm-10pm
Saturday: 1/2 hours available at noon, 1:30, 3:00, 4:30pm. Unrestricted before 9AM and after 10PM
Sunday: 1/2 hours available at noon, 1:30, 3:00, 4:30pm. Unrestricted before 9AM and after 8PM

Full Disclosure: You can save more money with a standby account or as part of a 20 hour+ bulk account, but you either deal with non-bookable time or a large upfront investment. I don’t make any commission off my tunnel rate, it is simply to get you bookable block time prices without having to invest. It also makes me look good to my boss, which of course I appreciate.

Want to fly at another tunnel? Let’s talk and see if I can match this rate for you.

July 22

You Need To Do 10 Hours

Let’s jump right into this. If you are starting from Level 1 Flier proficiency and want to get to head down in the wind tunnel (with the goal of having competence in the sky,) you are going to be looking at doing 10 hours of tunnel time. The road to head down is an odyssey, and is incredibly fun, (and at times frustrating,) along the way.

The cheapest rate you are going to get is 650 an hour, if you go in on a 50 hour deal with your friends, and coaching is 200 an hour. So the cheapest you will be getting this at is $8,500.

My special tunnel time rate with coaching built in is $1040/hour with no big buy in, but I do offer 10% off coaching if 10 hours are committed to. So if having a reservation is important to you, budget $10,400.

You might tell me you are different and you might be right! These estimates are for someone who has no background in body flight. Can we hack the system to personalize it and get better results? Yes. But typically this is what you should expect to invest.

How do I know this? I watched four fliers fly for an hour a day for two weeks in a row (with weekends off) go through the process as directly as possible. I’ve also taken a client from basic belly fly all the way to head down sign off.

One word about these numbers: Yes they are intimidating. What you get for this is world class skills. I have been surprised to meet record holding freeflyers and realize that I was better than they were in many aspects of flying. This foundation will set you up to start attending record events, etc. Also, compared to the $8,500 people drop on brand new equipment these days, 10k for world class skills is something that will actually set you apart vs having a shiny new vector.

Without further delay I will break down 10 hours of coaching for you.

–Basic Foundations–

Basic Backfly — 45 minutes (0:45 total)

Intermediate Backfly — 1 hour (1:45 total)

Basic Over the Feet Transitions — 30 minutes (2:15 total)

Intermediate Over the Feet Transitions — 30 minutes (2:45 total)

Note: At this point we have enough of a foundation to go in a variety of directions. Here is my preferred path to head down..

–Advanced Backfly–

Basic Sitfly — 45 minutes (3:30 total)

Head Down Daffy (Net) Introduction/Head to Back Transition — 30 minutes (4:00 total)

Basic Inface Backfly Carving — 30 minutes (4:30 total)

Bridge Backflying — 15 minutes (4:45 total)

Feet High Low Speed Backfly introduction — 15 minutes (5:00 total)

–Low Speed Skills–

Beginner Layouts — 30 minutes (5:30 total)

Basic Belly Carving — 15 minutes (5:45 total)

Head Down Net Stalls and Burble Drills — 15 minutes (6:00 total)

–Head Down, Etc–

Basic Daffy Liftoff (Hands on) — 30 minutes (6:30 total)

Intermediate Layouts — 30 minutes (7:00 total)

Intermediate Low Windspeed Back Carving — 45 minutes (7:45 total)

Daffy Directional Control (Hands On) — 30 minutes (8:15 total)

Back Carve/Layout Combination Chaining: 15 minutes (8:30 total)

Daffy Liftoff with Less Assistance: 30 minutes (9:00 total)

–The Last Hour–

Finishing touches: 60 minutes (10:00 total)

These finishing touches can range from sit to head backflips with a good client, to advancing the low windspeed carving transitions, intermediate belly carving introduction, more Daffy liftoff practice, or learning the Shelf Technique.

Other options along the way:

Split time with other fliers (Especially recommended after intermediate Backfly and basic Sitfly)

Advanced Sitfly (carving in the stag position would be most useful)

Basic Dynamic Lines (any orientation)

Note: Clients often start off wanting to get to head down quickly but with a foundation. Along the way they will be having so much fun that they want to put attention elsewhere. Sit fly Formations, Sit Carving, etc. are all directions where a person could spend 10 hours alone. The goals must be revisited before spending too much time going down a specific path.

July 22

The Fluctuating Price of Tunnel Coaching

This past week I was having a conversation at iFly with a coworker who has previously worked as a tandem parachute packer. He described the effect groupon was having on the sport, and how it was killing it. While I have my own opinion on groupon which I will not go into depth about here, what struck me next was his following point. Just a few sentences later we had shifted gears unrelated to the customer base we had as tunnel coaches. As a newer tunnel instructor he was surprised at how much business he was generating. He then dropped a familiar concept on me.

“I charge $1 a minute for belly coaching, $2 a minute for backfly, and $3 a minute for everything else.” He mentioned a different (also new) instructor had inspired him to take on this pricing structure.

“It just makes sense. Belly coaching is not that hard at all, and backfly isn’t much more.”

For reference, I charge $50 for 15 minutes. Indeed, if you want to fly less than 15 minutes it says on my card that I charge an even higher rate.. $25 for 5 minutes and $35 for 10 minutes. This is because, unless you are paying me with a credit card (which has a 3% processing fee), the price just doesn’t scale down. Seeing as it takes me as much time to drive out and coach a 5 minute session as a 15 minute session, I still have to cover the cost of my travel and briefing time pre and post flight. The only reason I’d spend five hours door to door from my house for less than $25 of coaching would be if I could be potentially losing other high value clients over it — and even then it just might not be worth my time.

While I want to give every client the opportunity to see if we are a good match, I don’t particularly want clients who won’t really commit to developing themselves. Add this to the fact that we as iFly employees already spend 40 hours a week on the clock at iFly, and you’ll see why an experienced instructor doesn’t necessarily want to spend an extra three hours at the tunnel on any given week.

Instructors don’t really like doing just five minutes, anyways. The client who does this unfortunately is not going to produce very good results. It makes it hard to sell a person on the results of their tunnel time investment when you just don’t have much to work with, and many times they will turn around and question the instructor’s coaching ability. Ideally, I’d watch every client for two-three minutes before even briefing them, so that I could get an idea of how to target my training, and would like for them to do an uncoached flight at the end so they can get a benchmark of where their progress is by the end of the day. 10 minutes is good, but 15 minutes is better for setting up the ground work for success.

I do offer a discount for those who are serious about flying.. ten hours of coaching will get a client $100 off. I like this type of client, because I know with this investment in me, I can take them from nothing to head down either through a static or dynamic progression. This is the type of client I want — one who will have the experience to discuss in an honest way to other people how my coaching really is, and discuss the results they achieved. I know I will get them to the point where they can be on a state record — indeed, I’ve already done this. I’m no longer looking to make a little extra money, but to build high quality coaching relationships.

If we look at the other pricing model my coworkers are offering, I understand where they are coming from when they undervalue themselves. They confide in me that they are not confident in their skills enough to charge $50 for 15 minutes. Indeed, one of our better coaches dropped his rate recently a full $15 to match the iFly counter price, $45 for 15 minutes, which is the same price for getting coaching from a randomly selected instructor on shift (– they could have two months experience or 2 years. It’s a gamble, and the real risk a customer is taking is trusting 15 minutes of time, or $285 of value, to someone who doesn’t have the experience to process exactly what you need, the background to help you achieve your goals, or the time to devote to finding the right information out about you.

I’ve never had a problem charging $50 for 15 minutes. I used to make $55 for tandem with handcam, and nearly that much for an AFF jump. I made it a point to pack value into each jump, and take the same approach packing value into $50 for 15 minutes with an in depth brief and debrief that ties back to my client’s goals. I also make it a point that my customers leave with their video.

It’s so funny to me though that my coworker can identify that devaluing a tandem jump with groupon has a major impact on the industry when older businesses can’t compete with the lower margins, but the same coworker fails to see it the same way when it is his own industry they is being cannibalized. A dropzone doesn’t charge less because their tandem instructor only has 50 tandems, and iFly doesn’t charge less because you don’t feel you’re a very experienced coach.

Let’s be real: if you are learning belly skills at the wind tunnel before AFF, the actual value from a skydiving perspective is much higher than freefly coaching. Being a level one flyer will translate into a higher pass percentage on your AFF Categories, ($220+ for rejumps,) and could even result in combining Cat C1/2, D1/2, or E1/2. (This custom program is something I offer, but many skydivers without a tunnel background are reluctant to do. I just supervise the student for the rest of the AFF program, working on higher value skills than holding headings, precise 90 degree turns, or ugly aerials.)

So why charge less for belly coaching? Well for one, iFly has made generic belly coaching a free service with their return packages. Not only do they drop the price for return fliers, they say it comes with “free” coaching. They key word here is free. This is the same coaching that a customer would pay the tunnel or coach for if they had bought a more expensive block time package. Because a client walks in as a skydiver, iFly charges them more for time and for coaching. I think that’s wrong — I think the non-skydiving client should be charged for coaching too, (perhaps built in to the price,) as coaching offers real value. The nonskydivers just choose to not apply it in a skydiving setting.

So iFly has decided to give away our personal services without asking us. It didn’t always used to be this way. But now it is. And the client gets generic coaching — meaning they walk upstairs, their instructor is in the driving booth until 30 minutes prior to the flight time, then immediately exits and starts the first timer introduction video which is four minutes and thirty six seconds long, finally giving them a window in which they can introduce themselves and brief the client, before returning to teach the class for 10 minutes and preceding to gear them up. Read that sentence again. Does this sound hard to follow, complicated, and distracting? That’s because it is. It takes a true professional to pull off coaching on the fly, (no pun intended) like this. The personalization for off the clock coaching is what allows you to move forward with your unique goals at an astronomical rate. But still, on the clock coaching is how unaware clients choose to spend their $16.25/minute ($19.25 with clock coaching) tunnel time.

Me: “You’re time is more valuable than that.”
Coworker: “But I’m here all the time anyway, so it doesn’t bother me to be here a little more.”

But then again, down the road you’ll see you missed a lot of opportunities by being here all the time. We as skydive instructors accept low pay, low benefits, and a chance to do something else that could be meaningful with this part of our lives. Our clients see the value in this, because we are better at what we do than they will ever be, and they know it. The key term here is “professional” tunnel coach. If we look at ourselves as a hoax, and we are so afraid someone is going to call us out on our inability, then yes, we do deserve to make less for the same work. We stop being professionals and become just a guy in a windy room. I hope our first time flyers don’t see through our shiny tonfly suits and G3 helmets and find the real us underneath — then they might start asking for $7 minutes.

Me: “This is your job. The company even charges more for your half your attention.”
Coworker: “But I really enjoy the work and am happy to do it. Plus I’m building experience”

And that is great. It is also nice to be compensated for your time, hence why this is also called our job. I double my weekly income with coaching on the side, and I probably work half as much as others (giving me time to write this blog post!) When my other coworkers are taking a paycut from higher earning jobs like being a iFly Customer Service Representative, being a Parachute Packer (I’m not even joking,) or a corporate IT/engineering job, why are they continuing to voluntarily cut their own pay in their own coaching business when they have bills to pay, mounting debts, and struggle to pay the rent or buy food?

Actually, the best coaches that I’ve seen have one thing in common: They are building experience with their clients by trying new and original drills out and seeing what the results are. They are so confident in what they do that they can charge $50 for 15 minutes to try new drills out, and will still get results faster than the on the clock coaching method.

But I have to reset and examine this from what is essentially my own point of view. Just as I believe that older dropzones need to adapt to compete, an owner who doesn’t even jump can’t manage a tandem operation and expect to outperform the owner who is slashing prices and matching margins by doing the jumps himself, I can’t expect to just complain and for this to go away. This issue is here to stay. The mismatch my coworkers don’t see is that after spending $17.50/minute, their client shouldn’t mind paying an extra $3.33 if you double the value of their tunnel time. This isn’t a skydiving tandem scenario where lower price for the same thing is higher value. They seem to implicitly imply themselves that they offer lower value, and by this reasoning maybe they shouldn’t be charging at all. Their client is trusting them with that $17.50/minute of value after all. But even the greenest instructor adds value. The company sees this with their prices — I just wish my coworkers did as well.

So rather than calling my other coworkers “Assholes,” as they themselves described the groupon businesses, I will just do more marketing of the achievements of my clients and the extra value I create as a professional skydive examiner/tunnel instructor combo — one of the only in the world to combine skydive and tunnel instruction at the highest level.

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