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Earn and Learn

Earn and learn is a job where you are trained as you earn. The position is designed for newcomers to the sport. Usually newly qualified skydivers, who wish to become full-time skydiving instructors. During your time working and supporting the jump program, you’ll be trained to do everything from supporting the ground organisation to becoming eventually (within 3 years) a multi-rated instructor and coach. It is designed to train you to be an all-round instructor with the skills and knowledge to succeed with a long and fruitful career in the industry." – Rob Spour PTO CI

"Earn and learn is a very hands-on approach to learning. As with all training, instructors are told to involve students in activities as much as possible to encourage their continued participation and interest. What better way is there than to give people the opportunity to do this as they begin climb up the ranking within the British Parachute Association system.

We have found that people who have worked their way up have a much better understanding & appreciation of the roles that everyone on the DZ fulfils which ultimately creates a much stronger team that is capable of supporting each other during busy times." - Kris Cavill DZM


Please be aware that applications have now closed and there are no vacancies available at the moment.

The Birth of Earn and Learn

Earn and Learn began essentially after a discussion between Rob Spour (our Chief Instructor) and James Swallow (the dropzone owner of Skydive Hibaldsatow). At the time, the DZ had a new program called the Freefall foundry. It hadn’t taken off as well as hoped.

In year 1, Andy Pointer had come to Hibaldstow on the scheme. The foundry was ultimately a fast track 6-month package where people paid to spend 6 months training at Hibaldstow. Training would be in all areas of freefall FS1, FF1, camera flying for tandems and working towards coach ratings.

At the same time, the DZ employed ground workers to support the jump program and it’s running on a daily basis. Usually, these ground crew members had no link to skydiving, so to them, it was just a weekend / seasonal role to earn an income.

Rob discussed how he had gotten into the sport and how he could link the ground crew role into a role similar to the foundry. The essence, was where we would take on keen up and coming want to be skydivers and pay them to work and support the jump program, while being trained at the same time.

Andy Pointer was the prototype for the Earn and Learn scheme. It worked and the benefits were very evident. Year 2 saw us take on Marcus Budgett into a similar training role. Marcus’s progression just like Andy’s had been - remarkable.

The scheme is now going from strength to strength with us taking on 4 candidates a season, talks of expansion and growth continue and the future plans for this scheme are extremely exciting. Watching and working with people as they grow within the sport and being a part of that is an amazing feeling. The scheme goes from strength to strength.

Earn and Learn Summed Up

"Earn and learn is a job where you are trained as you earn. The position is designed for new comers to the sport. Usually newly qualified skydivers, who wish to become full-time skydiving Instructors. During your time working and supporting the jumpprograme, you’ll be trained to do everything from supporting the ground organisation to becoming (within 3 years) a multi-rated Instructor and coach.

"We have found that people that have worked their way up through the ranks within our organisation have a much better understanding & appreciation of the roles that everyone on the DZ fulfils. This creates a much stronger team that is capable of supporting each other during busy times."’ - Kris Cavill, dropzone manager

progression chart

“How did you get into skydiving”?

People ask, well you can get a million and one different answers. For some, it was always something they wanted to do, that infamous tandem that turned into so much more, a tick of their bucket list that led to an addiction to the sky.

Sophie Harper

For me it was simple, it’s in my blood. Growing up with a skydiving dad you always learn to look to the sky. Christmas time would see me asking for a pink Barbie parachute and late nights would mean reading through my Dads old logbooks waiting for the day I could finally skydive.

So it was only natural for me to begin skydiving the second I turned 16. After one and a half years of skydiving and still being a student on the category system, I decided to take it a step further and try to find employment in the sport, and it was then I came across the opportunity at Skydive Hibaldstow.

I spotted an ad on Skydive Hibaldstows website offering employment for somebody who wanted a career in the sport. Their three-year program would take you from the very bottom to the very top, from ground crew to AFF instructor. I thought it sounded too good to be true but I applied completing the application form and submitted my personal statement , a few months and training weekend later, I miraculously found myself packing a very large suitcase and moving to England.

A-License, B-License, 50 Skydives

I have achieved so much more than I thought humanly possible in such a short space of time. Within 2 weeks, I had my A-license that I had been working towards for such a long time and within a month I had 50 jumps, B-license, half an hour in freefall, another 2 weeks saw me with my FS1 (formation skydiving grade 1).

One of the biggest highlights had to be my first skydive with the man who got me into the sport, my dad, Craig Harper. I managed to get my FS1 on lift 38 that night and was sitting on the plane with my dad on lift 39, the last load of the night. Despite being on a five-minute call, the second I donned my rig it, went surprisingly well. There’s something very strange about jumping out of a plane with your father, a feeling I could tell was mutual giving the number of times he checked my closing pin on the climb to altitude.

The jump, filmed by two good friends and fellow staff members, is something that will be in the family scrapbook for a long time. Of course this couldn’t have been possible without my FS1 and amazing instruction by Richie Gecse who had more confidence and patience than I did. Also, the instructors on my FS1 jump who wouldn’t give up until it was achieved, many thanks to Chris Southworth and Andy Pointer.

Not only is there progression in my skydiving, but I am finding myself learning skills I never thought I would be able to do. Such as refueling planes, starting them, driving bowsers, (although not reverse parking them, much to everyone’s amusement) co-piloting a Dornier, working towards my radio license and being a DZ controller.

I have seen AFF students come to us fresh from ground school on the Friday and leave on the Sunday night with A licence in hand. We see people every day achieving their new licenses, new ratings, new personal bests and it’s incredible to see.

8-way, 100th Skydive

Recently I took part in my first 8-way which went well despite this being the first formation skydive since my FS1 dive and I am now nearing my 100th jump. Despite the many beer fines I have incurred over the past few months, there’s so much more I hope to achieve at Hibaldstow this year including my radio licence in the next week or so, C licence by the end of the summer, camera flying by early next year and if it weren’t for Hibaldstow these goals wouldn’t be achievable.

Skydive Hibaldstow has shown me what it’s like to be a part of a drop zone where its number one priority is the progress of its students, fun jumpers, experienced skydivers, staff, teams and I hope to be a part of it for as long as I can be.

Sophie Harper

Ally Tebutt's Story

I've never really known what I wanted to do with my life. After I left school at 18 I traveled and worked around Australia for a year, it was an amazing experience, but I didn't exactly 'find myself' as many others claim to have done.

My Dad bought me a tandem skydive as an 18th birthday present which I did in Australia. I don't think I've ever been so nervous before in my entire life, but as soon as we left the plane all that worry was gone, I was flying, and it was awesome.

Ally Tebutt Earn and Learn

At Freshers' Fayre on my first day of university, all the sports clubs and societies were out in force recruiting new members. I knew I had to join the skydiving club and with a little help from the student loans company, I signed up for my AFF course.

I managed to complete my first 3 levels by December, which was chilly to say the least! During the first 3 months of 2013, even when the weather was good enough to jump, the grass runways at Netheravon were too waterlogged to use.

I stayed earth-bound until Easter, when I went on tour with the British Collegiate Parachute Association to Skydive Spain near Seville. I got my license on the last day of tour and even managed my first qualified jump with a friend from university. That trip really opened my eyes to the community spirit found in the skydiving world, and I made many life-long friends.


My progression over the next few years was quite slow, but last year I decided to really push myself and put everything I could into skydiving. At the start of my final year of University an advert came up on the Skydive Hibaldstow Facebook page for the Earn and Learn scheme, it seemed too good to be true: get paid to work in skydiving whilst also being trained up as a multi-rated instructor.

I'd first come up to Hib in July of that year for BCPA nationals and fell in love with the place, awesome facilities, great staff and plenty of altitude. I applied straight away and was asked to come up for a trial weekend at the start of the 2016 season.

Since I've started I've learned so much. Not just in the sky but so much about the running of a DZ. It's really amazing to see the amount of time and effort that goes into running a skydiving operation, especially one as big as this. I can now start and fuel all the aircraft we operate, I help support the jump program in any way I can to keep it running smoothly throughout the day, I'm a canopy handling coach and working towards my FS coach rating.

Radio License, Dropzone Control

I recently received my radio license so I can start working on DZ control and talk-down student skydivers. I'm going on my CSBI course at the end of October and I've done around 70 jumps here since I started here, a lot of which have been tandem follow-outs to get my skills up to camera pool level. The footage is definitely improving since my first accidental rodeo jump with Baldrick but it still has a way to go yet to meet the high standards that Hibaldstow require.

As with anything else in skydiving the beauty is that even while you're learning something new or if the jump doesn't go exactly to plan you still have an awesome time doing it.


I've never had a job before where I've worked a 14 hour shift and been happy to come in the next day, and then come in on my days off to jump, and spend most of my evenings here having a beer or 2 with the rest of the team. It is hard work, but also extremely rewarding and enjoyable.

In the past 18 months, I've done 233 jumps (320 in total), which I thought was a lot, but seeing how fast people progress here my goal is to have 1000 by the end of 2017, and possibly even my AFFI. I know it'll take an awful lot of work and commitment to make it happen but I couldn’t be more up for putting the time in.

Ally Tebutt

After a lot of preparation for the event, the weather unfortunately wasn’t on our side this year (2016) . My role was to check in competing teams back in after jumping, helping with dropzone control and assisting in any other areas to cope with the huge amount of people at the event.

Marcus Budgett

Despite the forecast, we took every chance possible to get the competition going and get as much done as possible. Our best was not good enough and so the competition rolled over to the next weekend with 2/3 rounds left to complete. Over 45 4-way formation skydiving teams came back the following weekend to get the competition completed.

Running immediately after that, the 8-way,freefly, freestyle and speed skydiving disciplines could commence. With a big push and lots of Hibaldstow team effort, we managed to finish just before midday on Saturday and so the rest could begin.

I too was competing in the Freefly and after seeing my team on the manifest screens with a short time left before take off, I was relieved from work and it was my time to compete! I defiantly had mixed emotions at this point as I had never competed in skydiving before. My team had spent a lot of time and effort into getting prepared for the event and I didn’t feel I was in 100% competition mode. This was probably due to nerves, but I was also excited to compete for the first time.

Unfortunately, the weather rolled in again and we didn’t get to jump until Sunday afternoon. We managed to get 4 of the 5 rounds complete and we were in 3rd place with one jump left to do the following day. The weather was great in the morning and we did the final competition round scoring a 8.1. This brought us up to a silver medal position which we was really happy with.

It was all over so fast, then 30 mins after getting all the final scores, it was back to work to help keep the Hibaldstow machine running. It was a pleasure to work and compete in the nationals, it takes a huge team effort every year to host the event, so it is pretty tiring.

To get the nationals completed in two weekends which both rolled over to the Mondays with the weather not on our side was truly unbelievable. Also, it was a great learning curve for me about how freefly artistics are judged and the difference in just fun jumping and the preparation needed to do well in competition.

Bring on 2017.

Getting Into Skydiving

I arrived at Skydive Hibaldstow in 2013 with 80 jumps and a tent. My first season here was spent doing ground crew work as well as working the old bar in the evenings. I was focusing mainly on developing my FS skills beyond the bare minimum for the FS1 sticker which I already had. I was also learning basic head-up freefly skills and getting my FF1 sticker. Towards the end of that season, once I had acquired that magic 200, I put a camera on my head and started following out tandems - the first real step toward professional skydiving.

Over the following winter, I took a break and then returned to the DZ in March to start training as a dropzone controller and canopy handling coach. These were the first steps toward my first instructor rating, the Category System Basic Instructor (CSBI). All the while I was continuing to follow out as many tandems as possible to get my footage (along with editing and packing) up to camera pool standard.

Camera flyer


It took me exactly 50 unpaid tandem follow-out jumps to be accepted onto the Hibaldstow tandem camera pool. I think this figure is one that will vary massively between individual camera flyers - some people could get there in 20 jumps, others in 100. I've always felt that the standard at Skydive Hibaldstow has been very high in all areas, the camera pool included. This has resulted in a high level of satisfaction once I was told I was ready.

While I started doing paid tandem camera jumps, it started off fairly slowly as I was still predominantly a DZ controller. I enjoyed learning dropzone control, and again feel I was taught to a very high standard by those that mentored me in this area. It was an area that I soon learned could be incredibly satisfying.

Running a 3 Dornier operation smoothly or getting a tough spot perfect are some of the best feelings I've felt on the dropzone and I'd encourage anyone who works regularly in skydiving to take an interest in DZ control - the rewards for learning an appreciation for this area are well worth it. DZ control was where I started out as a fulltime skydiver and to this day I pride myself on being good at it. It's a skill set that has already proved invaluable to me as an instructor and as a skydiver and I'm sure will continue to do so as I continue to progress.

Becoming An Instructor

In late August I took my CSBI course and received the minimum recommended probationary period before returning to sit the Category System Instructor (CSI) exam course. The CSBI course was a very enjoyable course and the coaching received throughout was fantastic. Aside from the coaching received from examiners, it was interesting to simply see how instructors do things differently at different DZs. The CSI course was different. It took a lot of classroom preparation and teaching practices to even feel nearly ready to take the exam course. On this course there was none of the coaching from examiners, although again, it was still rewarding to see new instructors and the methods / techniques they used.

Upon returning to the DZ with a shiny new rating, I was put to work with teaching static-line ground school courses, B-licence progression days and PLENTY of static line refresher training. Initially, under the continued supervision of the chief instructor and other senior instructors, I also learned that dispatching static line students was surprisingly physically demanding (but also unbelievably good fun as well). When I landed with the aircraft after dispatching my first two full Finist SMG loads of students, I was shaking. I got more of a buzz from dispatching those two loads than I ever have from a skydive. I walked around the packing hangar and high-fived every one of those ecstatic students before sitting down with them all, beer in hand, for a hugely enjoyable debriefing session at the end of the day. Turns out this instructor business is alright.

family skydives

Lots of Skydives In 2015

I made 775 skydives during 2015. This has been largely tandem camera and was a big enough bump to my jump numbers to have me ready for a Tandem Instructor (TI) course in time for June. Since getting the tandem rating (another very enjoyable BPA instructor course), I've made around two hundred tandem descents and am thoroughly enjoying the new challenge and sharing the experience of a first skydive with so many people.

November saw my final BPA course of 2015. After even more classroom work, several tunn