After decades, Bloemfontein Parachute Club still takes the leap!

Staticline Students Boarding Piper Cherookee Six. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Originating as the Free State Parachute Club decades ago, Bloemfontein’s Sports Skydiving owes its existence to local pioneers at Tempe Airport.

Generations of families turned skydiving into a lifestyle, sustaining the Bloemfontein Parachute Club for nearly five decades.

Facing challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic, the club found salvation when a group of skydiving enthusiasts came together in 2021 to revive it.

Under the management of Jackie Schoeman (PASA Appointed Dropzone Operator/Tandem Instructor), Chris de Jager (Chief Instructor), Conrad Botha (Chief Pilot), Johan Smith (Jumpmaster/ Camera Flyer), Christine Schoeman (Jumpmaster/Operations Manager), and with Skylife Adventures’ (owned by Jackie and Christine) support, the club reopened in November 2021.

Their vision extends beyond finance and resources; it’s about passing on invaluable knowledge and skills to the next generation.

Since November 2021, the club has become a prominent training ground, introducing nearly 100 static line student jumpers and over 200 tandem student jumpers to the thrill of parachuting and freefall.

Led by Chris de Jager, the club boasts 27 affiliated skydivers registered with the Parachute Association of South Africa, alongside 18 active student jumpers and regular visitors from across the nation.

In the past two years, notable achievements include Liandri van Zyl and Joanne Roelofse becoming the first female jumpers to earn licenses in Bloemfontein in a decade, as well as Dean Futter and Carl Swanepoel’s excellent progression, leading them to represent Bloemfontein at the 2024 Formation Skydive Nationals at Skydive Parys.

“A heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed to keeping the spirit of Skydivebloem alive, from our friends at Skydive Jeffreys Bay who supported us with our first Jump Aircraft, to the mentors and legends like Graham Field and Mike Rumble whom we’ve encountered along the way, gifting us with skill to become the next generation.

From a humble beginning with just five individuals to a thriving community of 50, we extend our deepest gratitude to all the mentors, skydivers, and families who have been instrumental in sustaining our passion for recreational sport here in Bloemfontein.”