Ever thought about working and travelling with skydiving? It’s possible. You could even have a view of The Palm at Skydive Dubai from your office. This is the enviable day-to-day reality for our friend Jamie Webster. A skydiver for eight years, he’s currently working as a Tandem Instructor and Camera Flyer at this iconic skydive hotspot. We caught up with him to find out what it’s like living the high-altitude life. Be warned though, you’ll be inspired to make the move, or as Jamie says, ‘just lick, stamp and send it!’
Firstly, give us a bit of background – how long have you been in the sport and when did you move to Dubai?
I’ve been in the sport for around 8 years now. I started the full-time skydiving dream when I left the UK 6 years ago and joined the New Zealand Skydiving School. Since then I’ve racked up over 7,000 jumps all around the world and am now residing in Dubai.
Culture shock is a well-known phenomenon, but did you experience ‘dropzone shock’ when you moved to Skydive Dubai?
Not really to be honest. Luckily I’ve been ‘the new guy’ a lot and worked in big teams before so the social part wasn’t that daunting to me, also I was confident in my skills and the experience I’d picked up on my travels to fit in and do a good job. It definitely helps travelling around a lot, you always bump into the same people again, so it was good to see a few familiar faces.
How experienced did you have to be to get a job there? Did you have to be multi-rated?
I think for tandems it’s 1,000 minimum and having an AFF rating definitely helps. Having a good level of camera flying also helps too as almost every tandem customer gets outside camera too which is great.
And how high is the skill level in Dubai?
It’s definitely a very good level, with a lot of passionate flyers who actively compete and are at the top of their game. There aren’t that many places in the world where you can do a full staff load 19-way head down formation at the end of a long workday!
I’m excited to jump more and learn as much as I can whilst being here. There are a lot of talented flyers around with bags of knowledge who are willing to help other people progress.
Have you got the iconic Skydive Dubai jersey yet? How do our jerseys hold up with hot, busy days in Dubai?
Yes! I’m not sure how many Manufactory jerseys I have, but never enough with summer on the way haha – I love jumping in them. They keep me cool and hide the inevitable sweat very well. They also dry very fast too, which is awesome for the colder climates and they are super comfy as a base layer, so I always have one on under my suit.
What is your favourite jersey to jump in?
My favourite jersey is the MX Paradiso one that was released a few years ago. I love how vibrant and colourful it is – it definitely sticks out on the day tape! For me, the Manufactory jerseys are the best jerseys I’ve ever jumped in. The build quality of them is second to none, they are built to last and they always look awesome. I love the new technology now allowing full customisation for teams. I can’t wait for my ANIMALS one to come through!
The Palm looks like an incredible place to jump. What are the top 3 most scenic places you have worked?
Yes, The Palm is probably one of the most iconic skydives to do in the world and the view is awesome for sure, but I have to say I love jumping in the mountains. It really is an insane visual to be freefalling right down the side of a snow-capped 7,000 ft mountain. So my top spot would have to be Queenstown in New Zealand. Airlie Beach in Australia at sunrise is also very good – I will never forget my time there.
Some other places I’ve jumped that stand out are: Bovec (Slovenia), Franz Joseph (New Zealand) and jumping onto the Cay Island at the Great Barrier Reef Cay Boogie.
Any top tips for people wanting to travel and work in skydiving?
I think the hardest thing is making the first move to ‘cutaway’ and fully immerse yourself in the lifestyle. Nothing is stopping you getting the things you want to achieve. As a wise friend told me just Lick, Stamp and Send it! Haha.
I’d recommend to anyone wanting to become a full-time skydiver to be the most employable person you can be. Learn how to pack, how to fuel, and how to ground crew. Try to gather as much information and practical skills as possible. The more ratings the better. This is going to give you a much more rounded skillset and will open as many opportunities as possible.
And also never forget why you started jumping in the first place, keep pushing yourself and jumping for fun as much as you can. This is definitely the key to not getting burnt out!
Rob Delaneys’ career in design has spanned nearly 20 years working for industry-leading apparel companies. He is best known as the creative director and co-owner of Manufactory Apparel, whose energetic style has become iconic within extreme sports communities across all disciplines.