My name is Rob Johns; I am a full-time member of the ground crew at Skydive Hibaldstow. I started skydiving at Skydive Hibaldstow in August 2016 and very quickly fell in love with the sport and everything that goes along with it i.e. social scene. I spent every weekend I could at the dropzone trying to get jumps in as winter approached.
I completed my AFF in September 2016 and soon after started working towards my FS1. It took a little while to complete due to work commitments and weather, but I finally I completed it at Skydive Algarve on the 4th January 2017 having decided to take a holiday over New Year and get a few jumps in while over there. Currently, I have 58 jumps and I am working on improving my belly flying by participating in as many FS jumps and tunnel sessions as possible as well as working towards my C license.
I jumped during nationals weekend at Hibaldstow and being in the presence of the nation’s best skydivers and on the plane with national champions I realised how supportive and friendly they all were, no arrogance whatsoever was shown from anyone, which is something I love about the sport, guys with 5000 or even 10000 skydives never put down newbies or put themselves above anybody else. The community as a whole supports each other as much as possible and everyone, no matter if they’ve been in the sport 25 years or 2 days, all have the same goal of enjoying themselves as much as possible.
After seeing my instructors working in the sport they love and how rewarding their job appeared to be, I decided that becoming an instructor was going to be one of my long-term goals and whatever it took I was going to make it happen. I applied for the Earn and Learn scheme the moment I saw the advertisement, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work and the best DZ country and receive the best training whilst working to pay my way through it.
After getting through to the second stage of selection for the scheme, I came for a weekend which included seminars on working in the industry and a brief interview. Around four weeks later I heard that I had got the job and obviously was over the moon. I immediately started packing up my house and searching for somewhere close by the DZ to live. I handed in my notice at work and two weeks later started work and my long journey to my ultimate goal: AFF instructor
We work very long days and for very little pay and what sometimes feels like little appreciation, sometimes it gets hard to keep the end goal in sight. However, most of the jump staff are very appreciative and help out when they can to let us go for a jump and get at least a slight break from the controlled chaos that is running such a busy jump programme.
3 months in and I have so far managed to get 68 jumps in, taking my total to 116. My target, set by Rob Spour and myself is to have 200 jumps and C license by September. Though I cannot currently achieve any ratings as I don’t have the necessary 2 years in the sport until 15/08/17, once I have reached 200 I can start training for camera pool, following out tandems and groups to build the necessary skills.
I am also currently working towards my radio license, having completed the test I am now waiting for a practical assessment. Once I have this I will then be able to start doing some DZ control training and student talk down.
The UK National Championships has been and gone in one big blur that has been August. Plenty of prep. work was done at the start and clean up at the end. I was assigned to fuelling and starting which was almost a constant flow with 3 planes flying and dropping every 5 minutes. There was a great atmosphere around the dz and as much as people hype up the manic nature of trying to get everyone jumped and keeping on top of the dz with that many people here, it was actually a pleasure to work, support and be part of the event.
I am now up to 188 jumps, nearing my 200th jump and my C license. Actually, jump 188 was my biggest formation to date (18) and also my first multi-plane formation. I am hopeful that I may achieve C license by the end of this month. Once I do achieve it, I can then receive a camera and tandem lurking brief, which allows me to follow out tandems and start working my way towards getting on camera pool. Then I can start actually working as a skydiver alongside my other roles on the ground.
I recently also achieved my radio license which allows me to now act as the DZ controller. This is a big learning curve and teaches you more than you realise about the running of the jump program.
I have been learning to manifest too and along with Ally Tebbutt manifested for the 25th Birthday weekend. We had 2 planes running for the entire weekend so this was a very challenging introduction to manifest. Since then I have manifested days with single plane and done weekends with 2 planes with other staff.