Over the last couple of years Sophie Harper has been on an interesting journey. She has gone from having zero skydives to being well on the way to becoming a skydiving instructor. Below, Sophie talks about her experience – be prepared to be jealous she has had an exciting time….
Why she’s becoming a skydiving instructor
People always ask skydiving instructors why? 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.
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.
Skydiving instructor course
I spotted an ad on Skydive Hibaldstow’s website offering employment for somebody who wanted a career in the sport. The 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 a training weekend later, I miraculously found myself packing a very large suitcase and moving to England.
Since moving to Skydive Hibaldstow, I have achieved more than I thought possible in such a short space of time. Within 2 weeks, I had my A-licence – something I’d been working towards for a long time.
Just one month into my experience I already had 50 jumps, my B-licence and half an hour in free fall. Two weeks later I had my Formation Skydiving grade 1 (FS1).
Highlights of the skydiving instructor program
One of the biggest highlights was 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 evening and was sitting on the plane with my dad on lift 39, the last aircraft of the day. Despite being on a five minute call, it went surprisingly well.
There’s something very strange about jumping out of a plane with a member of your family. A feeling I could tell was mutual, given the number of times he checked my closing pin (which holds the parachute container closed) on the climb to altitude.
The jump was filmed by two good friends at the dropzone and by fellow staff members. It’s something that will be in the family scrapbook for a long time.
This wouldn’t have been possible without my FS1, and the amazing instruction by Richie Geese who had more confidence and patience than I did and the instructors on my FS1 jump who wouldn’t give up until it was achieved. Many thanks also to the wonderful Chris Southworth and Andy Pointer.
Skills learnt becoming a skydiving instructor
In this program of becoming a skydiving instructor i’m learning new life skills I never thought possible. This has been an unexpected, bonus addition to the progression in my skydiving.
I have learnt how to refuel planes, and been driving the large aircraft fuel tankers called bowsers. I have learnt how to start planes and even been co-piloting a Dornier. I am working towards my radio licence and being a dropzone controller.
The progression rate at Hibaldstow is like no other. I have seen Accelerated Freefall students come to us fresh from a ground school on a Friday and leave on the Sunday night with A-licence in hand. We see people every day achieving their new licences, new ratings, new personal bests and it’s incredibly inspiring to see.
Recently, I took part in my first 8-way formation skydive. It went well despite this being the first formation skydive since my FS1 dive. Believe it or not, I am now nearing my 100th jump.
Next steps in becoming a skydiving instructor
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. I hope to get my radio licence in the next week or so and my C-licence by the end of the summer – I will need 200 skydives for that. I plan to be camera flying by early next year.
Skydive Hibaldstow has shown me what it’s like to be a part of a drop zone team. I hope to be a part of it for as long as I can, by completing their three year program and becoming a skydiving instructor.
Thanks to Sophie Harper from Skydive Hibaldstow for sharing her experience. For more information contact them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 0113 250 5600