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Life of Tai: Son of a Skydiver

Days before his 17th birthday, Tai finally gets his life wish to skydive solo.

Young skydiver walks with a grey parachute over shoulder
The Skydive School | Tai, Son of a Skydiver

It's a fact that many offspring of skydivers become skydivers. Is it because they have grown up on dropzones, watching planes take off and parachutes land? Maybe. Or maybe it's in their blood.

Tai is the son of skydivers: Chief Instructor (Paulie) and me, a former on-again-off-again skydiver. It was evident from a young age that Tai had an adventurous nature. And because we've moved several times for skydiving work, he's lived near many dropzones in Australia and New Zealand. I guess it was only a matter of time before he wanted to learn to skydive solo.

Baby on a mat with a parachute on it wearing a jumper that says Born to Jump
The Skydive School | Born to Jump | Photo ©Jennifer Morton
Eager to Get Some Air

If you're a longtime skydiver and avid reader of the ASM (Australian Skydiver Magazine), you may remember my article, Raising a Skydiver, in Issue 72. The feature article began with the story of Tai's early arrival into the world. This meant a ride on New Zealand's air ambulance, Life Flight: first while still in the womb, then again when he was a week old.

By the time he was two years old, he'd been on several airplanes while moving from New Zealand to Western Australia, then to Mission Beach, Queensland. That's where Tai witnessed hundreds of parachutes land on the beach over the 4.5 years there. It's also where he began climbing and jumping off EVERYTHING.

His interest in jumping increased when we went back to New Zealand for a working holiday in 2011. He even made himself a "handicam" to document his performance. Every fence, bedpost, or treehouse became a launch pad. He'd make rigs from toys or old pilot chutes that his father would bring home. He sure was an inventive and ballsy kid.

Tandem skydivers in freefall over snowy mountains
The Skydive School | Tai's first skydive | ©Rhys Kempen
Ready for take-off

Tai turned six years old while we were living in Franz Josef, NZ and what better way to celebrate the birthday of a son of a skydiver than a tandem (with Dad, of course). This became a bit of a tradition and over the years, Tai did several more birthday skydives between ages 9 -15. He even flew his body at iFly Singapore, then a few times at iFly Perth. The boy loves to fly!

That's why, mere days after his 15th birthday, he began training towards his Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC). Tai completed his first solo flight on April 16, 2021 and obtained his RPC in October 2021. He currently has 51 flying hours logged, and his cross country endorsement.

The Skydive School's First Student

At long last, all the stars aligned to make several dreams come true with the opening of The Skydive School at Hillman Farm Skydiving. Tai became TSS's first student when he began the AFF Learn to Skydive course on December 29, 2022 - a few days before his 17th birthday. All those years of jumping from fences and flying aircraft paid off - he's a natural in the air and a competent (and safe) canopy pilot.

Now that he is a certified skydiver, Tai's goals are to progress to a C certificate (so he can fly camera) and of course, attend Mumbles Burning Van Boogie in September (and every September after). As soon as he turns 18, he'll get his packer B certificate and add Parachute Packer beside his role as School Photographer at The Skydive School.

A young boy wears a black helmet with a GOPro
The Skydive School | Dreaming of Being a Freefall Photographer Since Always

He may be the son of a skydiver but he faces the same struggles that many new skydivers do: time and money. Year 12 commitments keep him away from the DZ, and without a full-time job or rich parents, paying for jump tickets is challenging. Such is the life of a teenage skydiver.

Will Work For Jump Tickets

Tai is an accomplished photographer and most of the ground photos featured on our website and social media pages are his work. Selling photos helps him pay for jump tickets. If you see him at the DZ, do not hesitate to approach him for a professional action or profile shot.

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