SKYDIVERS SET TO DROP IN

In March 2012 the Council approved an application by Skydive Hervey Bay to commence tandem skydiving operations onto four coastal dropzones subject to agreement by the State Government’s Marine Parks adminstration (formerly Dept. of Environment & Resource Management). The approved dropzones are:

  • Bargara CBD Beach area (subject to tidal conditions),
  • Bargara Beach Sports Field (Nielson Park Oval),
  • Elliott Heads and
  • Woodgate Beach

Yesterday I spoke with Peter Agnew, the owner of Skydive Hervey Bay, after Michael Owens gave him my contact details (thanks Mike). Peter is keen to commence operations in the near future and will be visiting our region over the next couple of weeks to make the final arrangements. He advised that many of his current clients reside in Bundaberg and the surrounding area and he’s happy for me to provide the local community with a ‘heads-up’ of his proposal.

Ready for take-off

I was able to provide Pete with a background on how Isobel and I arranged a similar operation back in 1997/98 when we contracted a Maroochydore-based Tandem Skydiving Instructor to conduct jumps onto the CBD Beach over one weekend a month. This was about the same time that we commenced the beach-launch parasailing operation from the same beach. The aim was to provide a free spectacle for local residents & visitors whilst at the same time providing an economic boost for local businesses.

Here’s how it worked…..

…..The attraction was launched at the Bargara Beach Hotel with a competition that we called ‘Toss Your Boss’ where staff from local businesses were invited to submit brief submissions explaining why their boss should be thrown out of an aircraft at 12,000ft. The submissions were judged and the winner announced at a special function held at the pub where the ‘winning’ boss was invited to take part in a free tandem jump. It was a great night with a considerable amount of humour as many of the submissions were read out (as far as I’m aware, nobody lost their job!). 

Isobel's tandem jump in 1997

Potential clients would book in through our dive shop with jumps scheduled on one weekend every month at 90 minute intervals. They would fill out the paperwork and the instructor would then drive them to the airport where they would receive final instructions before take off. In the meantime, their family and friends would wander around the CBD filling in the next hour or so spending money in local shops, cafes or the pub waiting for the landing on the beach to the immediate north of the boat launch area.

A small sign was placed on the foreshore advising passers-by when the next event was scheduled to take place. Many people (and especially those with younger children) would then hang around the CBD looking in shop windows, buying takeaway food, etc. before settling into a vantage point on the main groyne wall or vacant area of foreshore land to watch the next event. Remember, this was before the streetscape project so the opportunity for clear vantage points is even better now.

Back then, jumps were limited to mid to low tide periods to ensure that there was a sufficient area of landing space on the beach, however, the current approvals now give the option of using the Nielson Park oval as an alternative landing site during periods of higher tides.

As the aircraft reached altitude, the Ground Control Officer (GCO) would erect a wind-sock and mark out a landing zone on the sand making sure that members of the public were temporarily clear of the immediate area. Anyone on the beach was happy to oblige and the GCO would then give the “all clear” to jump.

Great landing (Hervey Bay)

As soon as the tandem pair bailed out of the aircraft there was tangible excitement through the spectators as they waited for the chutes to open (there used to be a separate camera operator back then). Once they landed there was always a round of applause and the client was given a free drink voucher for the pub (and who wouldn’t need one!). He/she and the assembled group of family and friends would then head off for a drink (or two or three) and often a meal.

The result?

  • a wonderful and exciting experience for the client + family + friends
  • an increased source of revenue for local businesses
  • a free, high profile attraction for residents and visitors (especially families)
  • a greater sense of vibrancy along the foreshore area
  • a ‘must do’ adventure activity for backpackers and other travellers

 Whether or not Peter decides to follow the model that we used all those years ago will be a matter for him however I’ll be pleased to give him every assistance in establishing his venture and hopefully will have an opportunity to introduce him to local businesses when he visits.

 

 

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