A love affair developed on Valentines Day in 1991, when Derick Gey van Pittius took his first jump out of an aeroplane, “I was still very young at the time. It all sounds very crazy to jump out of a plane, but once you do it you actually realise why people do it.”
Now a Veteran Jumper at Swakopmund Skydiving Club, it took Derick ten years of jumping to get to level where we can now offer the experience he loves so much, to others. “It took me a long time to actually get to about a thousand jumps, because you have to pay for everything yourself, and it’s quite expensive. Also, in those days it was only over weekends that you could jump. You have to do a thousand jumps to become a master jumper.” Explains Derick.
“I started at the Tsumeb Skydiving Club, which is where I was born. When I started jumping there was the Windhoek Skydiving Club, Etosha Skydiving Club, Tsumeb Skydiving Club and Swakopmund Skydiving Club. I started off in Tsumeb and then moved to Windhoek, and then the Windhoek Skydiving Club closed down and I moved to Swakopmund.”
“In my life I’ve probably done about a hundred and sixty hours free-fall time, so I’m almost twice around the world in free-fall by now.”
Today Derick runs the Swakopmund Skydiving Club. “Its been quite a journey explains Derick, “I never thought I’d do it as a job one day. It all started off as a hobby, but now I can show people why we all love skydiving so much. For the last seventeen years it’s been the only job I’ve been doing. In my life I’ve probably done about a hundred and sixty hours free-fall time, so I’m almost twice around the world in free-fall by now.”
For most people, the fear is what keeps them from experiencing the rush of free-falling back to Earth before your parachute opens and you can glide to the ground. Derick explains that safety is the biggest priority when taking someone on a Tandem jump. “We are very strict because we a responsible for your life. In twenty-seven years of jumping I haven’t had a broken bone. Over the years systems and equipment have become much better. There have been huge improvements in parachute development and if there is a problem and the chute doesn’t open, you’ve always got the second one. Sometimes the reserve chute is even bigger than the main chute. As long as you stick the altitude, skydiving is safer than driving in a car.” Explains Derick who adds that prescribed altitudes for when you open your parachute ensure you have more than enough reaction time if there were to be a problem.
Working seven days a week, doing about thirty to forty Tandem jumps a day, in a career that spans a life time, Derick notes that it is pure passion that motivates him. Not only his passion for the jump, but also the ability to show others the thrill of the experience above the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean that meets the Namib Desert.
“As soon as you jump, you don’t feel the wind anymore. It’s really only two or three seconds when you have a falling sensation and then after than you are floating in the sky. My one friend always says it’s like swimming in an ocean of air.”
“You have to ask yourself, when was the last time you did something for the first time?” Asks Derick as he explains the reasons why he loves the work he does. “Some people tell me after we jump that this was the highlight of their lives. It’s the funny thing about skydiving, it’s only the climbing out of an aeroplane that’s difficult, it’s the actual getting out and when you feel how strong the wind is. As soon as you jump, you don’t feel the wind anymore. It’s really only two or three seconds when you have a falling sensation and then after than you are floating in the sky. My one friend always says it’s like swimming in an ocean of air.”
“Plus here the scenery is so beautiful. We are one of the top three most beautiful jump sites and the most popular for tandem skydives, in the World.”
Get in touch with Swakopmund Skying Club through their website by clicking here or calling +264 64 405671