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Welcome Lance, to the US of A

So, as you can imagine (based on how long this has taken me to get around to), State-side has kept me busy.

For the most part, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that is not skydiving related that contributed to this post, but this is more about the experiences and adjustments that come with moving approximately 8453 miles around the world to follow my skydiving dreams.

I would have to say that the biggest unforeseen “slow down” would be financially. Although it should have been obvious to me, I didn’t expect the fact that I have no credit history in the US to be such an expensive problem. Paying cash for a car was expected, but having to pay for 6 months of motor insurance up-front at outrageous prices was not, nor was paying a $500 deposit for a cellphone contract. I will not dwell on the financial side of the move because I’m sure you get the idea; it’s been expensive. haha.

I’m extremely thankful to my family here in Florida for the support they’ve given me so far, it definitely makes the move a lot easier.

To date, I’ve made a total of 22 skydives (in 5 months [sad face]), The first 8 of which were out at Elsinore over November 2012 when I flew over to meet one of my South African friends who was there. Southern California is amazing, after landing in LAX and meeting up with my buddy, one of his friends from Elsinore, as well as a South African chick that flew out for 2 weeks or so, we headed out to check out Venice beach. WOW, that was an eye-opener. Awesome. Amazing. Weird. Unique. The night ended up with a bunch of slightly drunken skydivers running amok in Wal-mart while I buy a tent, sleeping bag, beer and other necessitates for the weekend. Unfortunately I ended up buying a kiddies sleeping bad that was really only good at keeping my legs and feet warm :/ Uncomfortable, sleep-less nights aside, Elsinore is a FANTASTIC dropzone, I met a lot of really awesome people, tried a lot of new things in the sky and had a great time. Blue Skies Mag were not joking when they voted Elsinore #1 for the hottest female staff 😉

After returning from Elsinore and a month or so at my new job, I decided to head out to Sebastian for the world famous “Invasion Boogie”. For those readers who skydive but have not yet been to the Invasion, this is one trip you HAVE to make. If I were to go into detail about all the awesomeness, naughtiness and craziness that goes on there, you’d still be reading next week. And that does not include the skydiving side! Just do it, I’ll buy you 5 beers if you don’t have an amazing time. I met people from all over the States, as well as a few people from other countries. We had great parties together, amazing skydives together and loads of beers together! Trust me on this, it’s worth it!

My South African skydive membership expires at the end of March 2013, which means that unless I renew it, I will no longer have a C-License to jump on. As a result, I’ve been frantically trying to get all the paperwork and requirements sorted out to get my USPA C-License, one of which is a basic canopy course to complete the B-License requirements (besides the written test which I have not studied for yet). After reviewing Skydive Cities calendar of events, I decided to hop on the next available basic canopy course which was about two weeks ago. Although the instructor was awesome enough to help me help me improve my high performance landings, he also helped to re-affirm many of the basic (yet essential) canopy skills required by a good, safe canopy pilot. This was a great learning experience for me as, until now, I have not have such in-depth, intense canopy instruction. I am very interested in canopy piloting and this was a great introduction to the quality of instruction that I can expect with future courses.

Now some of you might tar and feather me for this, but I’ve always said that the act of skydiving (for me) is only about 35% of the reason I skydive, the other 65% is the social side (and everything else that can’t be bubbled); seeing your really good friends every weekend and every other chance you get, having beers after a good (or weathered out) day of jumping, weekday safety meetings at your favorite pub with your skydiving buddies, and of course all the shenanigans that happens in-between. This being said, I’ve lost 65% of the reason that I skydive. I generally love irony, but in this case, I do not. Who would have thought that the very reason I moved 8435 miles to pursue my love for skydiving would be the same reason why I lose the enthusiasm I’ve always had for it? Don’t misinterpret that, I’m certainly not about about to sell my gear, let my USPA & PASA memberships expire or even put my rig bag away in the cupboard, I’m simply frustrated with the fact that I no longer have my friends by my side, and because of the fact that I’m still slugging away at the debt I incurred through the move here (plus the car, cell phone, auto insurance, medical insurance etc. etc), my goals of meeting new people at the DZ and getting mad skillz have slowed down drastically.

So, I am not one for negativity and like to end things on a positive note as much as possible: Due to the fact that I have only been here for less than 6 months, the IRS gave me back all of the tax that I have paid so far…and it’s going towards a brand new LiquidSky jumpsuit 🙂 🙂 🙂


Blue Skies and Happy Days!!



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Life Changing

It has been a while, my apologies – Life has made a few drastic turns, leaving my free time extremely limited.


Between juggling new projects at work, moving, and drop zone politics; life has been busy in most other areas as well, to say the least.

I am happy to say that amongst the chaos, there have been many great experiences since I last sat down to write: My jump numbers have increased to 252, I recently received my C-License YAY, I have started filming tandems and this past Saturday, I was able to do a display jump into our biggest air show in South Africa – This was an amazing experience that I had been aiming towards for a number of years. To top it all off, I jumped from a 1944 Piston driven Dakota “Marilyn” with many of my great friends. Naturally, this jump was promptly followed by BEERS, which was a great way to end off a great day!

In November & December 2011 I was in Tampa, Florida for my sister’s wedding, and I jumped at the opportunity to get some tunnel coaching with Luis Prinetto who was able to break some habits that I had formed with my sitfly and vastly improved my skydiving in general! On a side note: anyone wanting to improve their skydiving, regardless of skill level or discipline, I strongly recommend Luis – He is an excellent coach!

As I was Florida, I made sure that I visited a few drop zones to see what they are like when compared to our small DZ’s in South Africa, and man was I impressed! Before my trip last year, many people had told me that I would not be able to even imagine how much better skydiving in the States was than it is here – they were RIGHT. I made a few jumps at DeLand, Sebastian, Z-Hills and Tampa Bay – I really enjoyed all of them, but I cannot tell you which I prefer as I have not been able to decide.

I have a number of family members in Florida and it was really great being able to spend time with them all. My sister’s wedding was beautiful and she has married a really great guy that I have no doubt will be a great husband for her. Oddly enough, her husband grew up in South Africa, roughly 30 minutes away from her, and his father knows my dad from business many years ago. It’s amazing how small the world has become.

I got home from my amazing US holiday with an open mind – it was my third trip to the States, but my first as an “adult”. My friends have been trying to work out why I choose to stay in South Africa when I am a US Citizen. The question that is very common for me is “but you have an American Passport, why are you still here?”. Up until this point, my answer was simple and standard: “I love South Africa”. For those of you who are not familiar with this country, it truly is beautiful; we have 12 months of fantastic weather, great beaches, mountains and wonderful natural sights around the country, all within a few hours of where I live. Unfortunately though, it does have some bad points as well. Crime and a dysfunctional government have many people worried about its long-term future. This aside, I still love the place and will always call it my home.

Anyway (I digress), I have booked myself a one-way ticket to Florida, resigned from my job, and am in the process of getting everything in order for my big move on the 1st of October, 2012.

The decision to move 8422 Miles was not an easy one to make! I have amazing friends, (had) a great job which I enjoyed and allowed me to skydive. Not to mention that it means leaving my parents, sister, brother-in-law and two nephews here, as well as many other people and opportunities.

I have never been one to make a list of PRO’s and CON’s as I’m generally quite spontaneous, this decision however, took a number of weeks to make. There was one major deciding factor: I want to skydive! Although amazing and filled with great people, our DZ’s here are too small for me to give skydiving a real go. I love working with students and have been coaching and jump-mastering for about a year. I love freeflying and I love flying my canopy, FAST!

So – I have come to the conclusion that in order for me to be able to progress as much as I would like to in the sport, there is only one option: Move to Florida!

I’m unbelievably excited, nervous, sad and outright TERRIFIED – it’s a strange combination of feelings.

I’m  extremely analytical and try to find answers and reasons for every situation, I research and analyze every possible scenario and outcome for every situation in my life (it’s a bit annoying), but with this, I’m just stepping out of my comfort zone, a leap of faith, if you will. There are LOTS of unanswered questions about this move; will I be able to get a decent job? How long will it take to find a job? Will I be able to get on my feet quickly? Am I going to be imposing on my family by staying with them while I get on my feet? Will I enjoy the States, How long am I going to give it? And of course, which DZ do I make my home!!?? But, I’m going against my better judgement and ignoring the part of myself that wants answers. I’m just going to wing it and see where life takes me.

I preach that people step out of their comfort zones and “live a little”, it’s a bit ironic considering how shit scared I am to do the same. Haha. For the first time, I am taking my own advise because I know it’s for the best. I will just have to let you all know how it turns out.

Blue Skies and Happy Days!


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Balance – What’s That!?

S#1t – Life (skydiving) has been keeping me busy lately, REALLY busy!! My apologies to everyone for being so slack with blogging.

As I am now on my skydiving club’s committee, lots of hours at home are spent working on club newsletters and helping redesign the website. When I am not working on committee / club stuff I am researching my new *possible* project (more about that just now).

I am glad to say that my jump numbers have been racking up very nicely – after this past weekend, I am up to 70 :-). I know I am still in the very early stages, but hey – it’s not bad since I’ve only been jumping since March!

As I mentioned in a previous post – I’m waiting for my CI’s approval to jump my new 150 Hornet, although my wingloading is less than 1:1, my CI just wants to ensure I don’t break myself on a 150 canopy. Personally, I feel very capable of flying my canopy – but he’s the boss! His requirement of me, is to get my B-Licence and he might then agree to let me jump my rig 🙂 so – like an excited little boy on Christmas Eve (I used to open all my presents and re-wrap them and stick them back under the tree), I am doing everything I can to get my B-Licence. I passed both CAT 2 jumps this past weekend and am hoping to do my CAT 3 by the end of next month at the ABSOLUTE latest – I have a bit of practising to do in the mean time! Since I found my new jump partner (Maryke), that moved to my DZ when she found a job nearby, not a jump has passed that we aren’t both working on something (both in freefall and under canopy). So this weekend I guess I’ll be exiting slightly later than her so I can practise chasing her down and pinning the base for my CAT 3 jump :-).

We are planning a Boogie between Christmas and New Year at one of the towns on the coast line that always buzzes with parties over this period. Again – this is driving me to get my B-Licence, there is no way I’m going to sit and watch on the beach while everyone else lands on it!!

Sorry – I digress.

I have also been spending lots of time helping my coach (Michael) with a Power Point presentation on a First Jump Course, which you can imagine, is quite a bit of typing!

Tonight I am off to Michael’s place to drop off the loan 170 rig that I have been jumping as he sold it, and to pick up my new loan rig.

🙂 My *possible* new project 🙂

I have decided that South Africa needs a Vertical Wind Tunnel, and who better to build / buy one than me!? Well, probably lots of people, but I want to do it!! So I am investing huge amounts of time and effort researching, meeting with engineers and talking on the phone to suppliers in the States and Latvia.

My main concern is whether it will be financially viable to build one in South Africa; our population is tiny in comparison to other parts of the world that have a wind tunnel, furthermore – the percentage of the population that this would appeal to, is smaller still!

I am determined to do this though, even if it goes belly-up, it will be a good learning experience, but at a cost of about 60 Million Rand, a very expensive one!

I have been trying to decide if it would be financially beneficial to have local engineers design one in South Africa, verses purchasing one from overseas. I have come to the conclusion that yes, it might be Slightly cheaper, but why save a few pennies and not have the years of experience and trial and error, when for a little extra, I would get all the backup support and a state of the art 14 foot wind tunnel capable of flying a 250lb person on his/her head very easily??:-)

My next big step is to secure financial investors, but this still requires a lot of work to put a financial and business plan together for my proposal.

So – as my heading suggests, there is no balance – I find myself arriving late to just about every function that happens over a weekend because I want to squeeze in just one more jump before I have to leave.

On weather hold days, I am at the DZ watching BASE and skydiving videos, packing and re-packing 150 that I can’t jump yet.

I no longer party on the nights prior to jumping (unless it’s a Saturday and I’m drinking beer at the DZ with my jumping friends), I can’t even remember what I used to do with my weekends before I started skydiving!

Before, I never liked not being in a relationship, now – I don’t mind being single and have given up on the idea of finding a girl that would be happy with me spending me all my time, money and energy on skydiving! I want a skydiving chick! 🙂

Needless to say, I LIVE skydiving! My career goals and ambitions have changed, my personality has changed and just life in general no longer contains even a smidget of my previous life – AND I LOVE IT THIS WAY!!

Balance – WHAT’S THAT!?

Blue Skies and Happy Days!


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Catch up post

Right, where to start!?

Firstly – sorry that it has taken me so long to get around to blogging, between work and the DZ, my time is very limited!!

So – I’m on 54 jumps after this weekend…and hoping to be at 100 by the end of the summer 🙂

There have been lots of changes with regards to my skydiving life, and I’m loving every bit of it! I am now in charge of our club newsletter and part of “The party committee”, hence why I have been so quiet on the blogging front!

I have also bought myself a “new to me” rig about two months ago, it is a Vortex II container with a 150 Hornet (SA brand canopy), 150 Pilot and a Vigil AAD. Unfortunately because I’m still a newbie, it is sitting in my cupboard while I jump a loan 170 🙁 I have done 10 jumps on it so far and I’m loving the Hornet (Yes – my loan is also a Hornet)!

I was expecting to either have to get to 100 jumps, or my B-Licence before jumping my rig, but after chatting to the CI & SO this weekend, he has given me the go-ahead to jump my new rig (Thanks Steve!!) 🙂 I just need to do another 10 jumps on this 170 and provided he is happy with my landing pattern, accuracy and landing, I can jump it 🙂 WOOOOHOOOOO…can’t wait!!

I am SO excited to jump my own rig, it just fits me so perfectly which is rare as I’m quite a small guy (5ft 5in and 154 pounds exit weight). Plus it just looks so cool!! Haha – this is important to us skydivers 🙂

I recently started free flying and was planning to do my CAT II & III in Free fly for my B-Licence, however – after chatting to my CI on Sat, he has recommended that I first do my CATs in flat fly so I can get my B-Licence quicker, just to have all the perks of a B-Licence, like being able to jump onto the beach at this year’s year end boogie 🙂 so that is where most of my airtime will be going from now on!

Choosing between flat flying or free flying has always been a tough decision to make, but having a nice cute new female flat flyer doing two-ways with me definitely did help my decision to do my CATs in flat flying 🙂 I know – that shouldn’t be a deciding factor, but my goal is to have a consistent jumper that I can jump with, and she will be moving on to free flying once her flat flying CATs are completed.

So – here’s my short term goal list (in order):

– Beg, borrow and steal money so I can be on my new rig by the beginning of next month
– Start my CAT II & III training / tests this weekend (in flat fly)
– Have my B-Licence by the end of the year
– Carry on with my Free Flying training
– Do my 100th jump before summer is over (around the end of March 2011)

Here’s to achieving those goals!!

This weekend we’re holding a Static Line special, as well as having our AGM. This sounds like it is going to be a huge party with lots of new faces around the DZ 🙂 As I am part of the party committee, I’m going to steal a saying from our newest female member (Maryke): “We are drinkers with a skydiving problem”.

I have found that skydiving is a way of life, it is not a sport or a hobby that one can do every now and then. Skydiving requires dedication and drive, and LOTS of time and money. No one realizes just how much skydiving actually takes over your life until you do it, it is a HUGE lifestyle change, and it changes your ambitions, your goals and just life in general. Too often I have seen people get through AFF, buy a rig, jump for a month or two and then you never see them again – I have put this down to the fact that they are not happy with the lifestyle change (or at least their partners aren’t).

Sorry – I tend to go off on a tangent every now and then and it’s hard to put everything in writing when I have to mash a few months into one article!!

Cheers everyone, here’s to everyone making their personal goals, lots of “Firsts”, down-down’s, cases of beer, laughs and good times! Plus of course awesome time spent in the sky!

Blue skies everyone and happy days!!

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Skydiving in South Africa

Right – I guess I should start off with describing how EXPENSIVE skydiving is here in relation to the general income (I’ll try make this as easy to understand as possible).

Skydiving in South Africa has unfortunately reached a point where it is reserved for professionals. I am sure not why this is, but it a major factor behind skydiving here not being as accessible as it is in the rest of the world.

To put it in context – A jump ticket cost me R200 (roughly $26.50), gear hire and packing – $9.90 each jump. Considering I normally take home around $2000 per month after TAX (Which in Rands is a fairly decent salary).

So – By the time I pay for my car, rent, food, cell phone  etc, I am usually left with around $260 to jump with 🙁

I can’t really compare the cost side of things to the US as I don’t know how much it costs relative to the average salary, however – In South Africa, jumping is out of reach for the general public 🙁

Other than the costs involved, Jumping in South Africa is pretty much the same as anywhere else in the world, just on a smaller scale. We only have about 6 Drop Zones in the whole country, but I plan to jump at all of them 🙂

As for BEER FINES, yes – we have them 🙂 but on a smaller scale. For passing my AFF progression, I was rewarded with having to buy a case of beer, and while everyone sits around drinking my beer, they laugh at all my AFF videos. I then had to tell a story that begins with “Oh SHIT, there I was – I thought I was going to die…(insert story here :-))”  Then had to down a beer within 5 seconds, and if you don’t finish it – pour it on your head. Haha – Good Times!

For our “Firsts”, we have to do down-downs, not buy cases of beer – This suits me just fine because two cases of beer is equivalent to one jump ticket, and I’m sure everyone knows – when you first get into the sport, there are A LOT of firsts!

Things are looking very promising for the skydiving future of South Africa as; recently a very wealthy business man decided to invest in uplifting the sport. So far he has built and upgraded various drop zones around the country, bought 6 ex South African Air force planes (Previously known as Atlas Kudu’s) and is currently in the process of having them all converted to turbine engines. The first three have been rolled out (My DZ currently has one). These are now called Atlas Angels and have a wicked paint job :-). The idea is that once all 6 have been converted, 5 drop zones will each have one and there will be a spare for when one goes in for a service! I love these planes – it takes just 12 minutes from take-off to 12 000ft, and about the same time back to the end of the run way.

Although the Angels only hold 9 skydivers, they are normally on their way back up with load 2 by the time the tandems from load 1 are landing 🙂

See below pic’s of my favourite jump ship 🙂

One thing I love (Especially now being winter here), from about 7 000ft and up the view is amazing! To the right of the plane, we can see the Drakensburg Mountains, covered with snow, and to the left, we see the entire Durban coast line and even the arch of our new stadium!

Those are the main differences that I know of – the only other minor difference is: Here, the maximum wing loading for a “Beginner / intermediate” skydiver is 1.0 as opposed to the 1.1 in the US, not a huge difference, but for me – it’s the difference between being able to fly a 170 vs. a 150. Meaning that now (Because I’m in the process of buying my FIRST rig) I have to buy a 150 canopy, and look at it in the cupboard while I jump a 170 till I get my B-License 🙁 as the 150 is going for a great price and don’t want to lose out!

I haven’t been able to jump anywhere other than in South Africa, so I’m just going on what I’ve read. Please feel free to add a comment if there is anything specific that you would like to know about.

Blue skies everyone and happy days!

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A Little Intro

Hi everyone,

I thought it best to introduce myself…

Hi, my name is Lance, and I’m a skydiving addict! It’s been exactly 2 days and 19 hours since my last fix and I’m getting serious withdrawal’s – I like to call this “Altitude Sickness” 🙂

I live and jump in Durban, South Africa and needless to say, skydiving here is not quite what it is in the US and the rest of the world. Yes – It IS as awesome and as addictive as it is everywhere else in the world, but it is not as “Big” here as it is everywhere else…but hey – that just means I can get on more loads! 🙂

I’ve currently only got 39 jumps under my belt and am about to start (this weekend) my free fly training for my CAT II & III (Super excited).

I guess you could say that skydiving is in my blood – My parents actually met skydiving in Ohio, although my mom decided it wasn’t for her after landing in a tree, my dad went on to do 600 odd jumps and get his D-License.

I am very grateful to my dad for marrying a US Citizen, because it means that I am also a US citizen which would allow me to travel and jump in the USA without having to worry about visa’s 🙂 THANKS DAD!

I love skydiving life! Skydiving has completely taken over my world and only skydivers ACTUALLY understand how addictive it is, and why it’s pretty much the only thing I talk about!

Anyway, I am very excited about being able to write for Skydive Addiction and give my insight into the skydiving life in my part of the world.

Blue Skies everyone and happy days!