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Tandem jumps inspire new career in Air Force

After the adrenalin rush of a tandem parachute jump with his Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) colleagues, Corporal Thorne Davidse was inspired to change trades and teach parachute jumping.

He was on exercise with the RNZAF Parachute Training Support Unit (PTSU) at Casa Grande, a civilian drop zone in Arizona.

“I was fortunate enough to go overseas with PTSU as a rigger and watch closely how they operate. It only took me one tandem jump to know for sure that this is what I wanted to do for a living,” he said.

“I like to live outside my comfort zone and challenge myself constantly. A Parachute Jump Instructor seemed like it ticked all the boxes and I get to jump out of planes for a job.”

He graduated recently as an instructor after a year’s intensive training with Parachute Training Support Unit at RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai.

Corporal Davidse grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, and moved with his family to Te Atatu in West Auckland when he was 14. He attended Kelston Boys’ High School.

He joined the RNZAF in 2013 and at Whenuapai worked in the Safety and Surface trade in various roles. He graduated from his technical maintenance course at the end of 2016 and spent 20 months with No. 6 Squadron working on the Seasprite helicopters

“I successfully applied with the Officer and Aircrew Selection Board in April 2017, started my parachute jump instructor training in August last year and was posted to Parachute Training Support Unit in November,” he said.

“Jumping solo was terrifying at first, especially that first solo low-level jump last November, but the adrenalin kick means you just want to get back up and do it again. It’s an awesome feeling.”

“My biggest challenge was the instructing side of the job – it’s totally different to being a technician. Many people think all the job consists of is purely jumping, but we are instructing too, and having little experience I found it quite demanding.”

“Jumping out of a plane is certainly a memorable experience for people,” he said. “I love to see the transition of people from knowing absolutely nothing about parachuting to completing a jump course.

“Giving people their wings has been one of my highlights at PTSU and I look forward to handing out many more.”

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