Toggle Times


Jumpmaster Course - Robertson
By Ailsa Burns, Rob van Niekerk and Brian Baxter

It has been approximately 3 years since the WPSPC (formerly Skydive Citrusdal) has run a jumpmasters course.  It has been a roller coaster of a time since we left Citrusdal, with trying to build a dropzone in Ceres (and yes we are still waiting for the land), temporarily operating out of Cape Town in the early mornings so our students could jump (thanks, SCT) and finally finding a home in Robertson where we were finally able to pick up momentum again.

Left to right: Brian, Rob, Martin, Donovan,
Corne and Werner

So as we continue to rebuild and grow our classes, we are getting more and more student retention and enthusiasm.  And once this starts the pressure builds on the pool of duty staff – especially as that pool diminished during the time “in the wilderness”.

So during the last few months of 2008 some of our more experienced jumpers requested that we run a jumpmasters course.  The date was set for late January 2009 for the practical and theory exams which left just a few short months for the candidates to get all the pre-course requirements completed.

Many a weekend would come round where you would see familiar faces sitting in on First Jump Course, volunteers available to go out into the field at Robertson (in 40° heat) to be the “bat man” and land students, and even one or two late bloomers getting their packing licenses.  Most of these weekends, they did not even get much jumping in.

Finally the big week came round.  Alister McQueen and Martin Phelps did some lectures during the week and then off to the dropzone on Friday night for the C licence exam.  We did feel slightly sorry for the candidates when we all went out for dinner and beer, so we sent them Mr Delivery. By the time we returned they had all turned in for the night having passed the test.

When I asked one of them to jot down what went on in the classroom on Saturday I got “We practiced aircraft procedures, student briefings, emergency procedures and all other relevant scenarios that we could expect. This was a long and intense day full of practical work mixed with theory and the quick studying of the MOPS in between classes.”

Sunday morning dawned for the practical test to take place, and they got the chance to do some dispatching. Not to give the inside story here on what happens, but lets just say that they had plenty of laughs, hair-raising moments and mind farts. Finally they all wrote the JM’s exam and then settled down to wait for their results.  Congratulations to Rob van Niekerk, Brian Baxter, Werner Deetlefs, Donovan Thatcher and Corne Moolman who all had passed and were cleared for apprenticeships under a current JM until such time that the CI declares them ready to be let loose on the students unsupervised.

Some comments from the guys:

“Jumping a student rig again was a very humbling experience, and transported me to my days as a progression student. It gave me the empathy and understanding again of what a student feels like in those early days of their skydiving career.”

“I’d definitely say that I feel my knowledge and experience with regard to skydiving has increased exponentially over the last week. Amidst all the pressure and worrying there were also a lot of laughs and joking. A true camaraderie developed between all of us as we worked our way through the various tasks presented to us.”

A big thank you to Al and Martin who made this course possible; and now we just wait for our Instructor candidates!!