He may be ‘behind the scenes’ but he’s a VIP at the drop zone
Keeping the parachutes packed and safety checked is one of the most important ground-based jobs at any drop zone. At our Rottnest Island skydiving location, we are grateful to have fellow New Zealander, Brendon Hoet meticulously caring for and packing our parachutes.
After six years working in a vehicle paint booth, Brendon gave it all up to follow his dream of being a skydiver (and we’re so glad he did).
In this post, we talk to the 30-year-old about the path he took to become Skydive Geronimo’s main parachute packer.
How long have you been packing parachutes for Skydive Geronimo?
About 8 months now. I started in late November 2017. Now, I also edit the customer videos for all the company’s drop zones, which includes Rottnest Island and the seasonal operations at Broome and Busselton.
Your work life started out as a car painter in Te Awamutu, New Zealand. What made you change careers?
I was over it. I thought, ‘I want to go do what I’ve always wanted to do’. So when I was 28, I just flipped a switch and signed up for the skydiving course. I had the money so I chased after something I always wanted to do. I wanted to do the skydiving course when I was 17 or 18, but my old man was like, ‘nah, don’t do that, get a trade’. So I got my trade and made good enough money but I knew there was more to life than painting cars. So I made the decision to try my luck at jumping out of a plane and I enrolled to do the Diploma in Commercial Skydiving at NZ Skydiving School in Auckland.
What qualifications do you have to be a parachute packer?
I have a Packer B license, which is a regulated requirement to pack commercial parachutes. I also have a ‘D’ skydiving license, which is not necessary to be a packer but it helps because you already have a good understanding of how the equipment functions. During the skydiving course, we were told that we would start our careers at ground-based positions: packing, video editing, driving, manifest…before we get to the coveted role of camera flyer and then skydiving instructor. But those ground jobs are important and they give you good knowledge of the overall operations of a drop zone.
What do you love about packing parachutes?
[laughs] I don’t necessarily love it. I do enjoy it, and it is a stepping stone in this industry. I have a big responsibility to keep the passengers safe, and not only them but the tandem masters, who are my friends. So I take a lot of care and I put a lot of effort into packing the parachutes. I take pride in packing and it shows in my work. I have a friend who thinks I should do my Packer A rating, which will give me the qualification to pack reserve parachutes. I’m confident enough in my work to know that I will always pack to a high standard, for myself and everyone else. I find my work quite meditative. When I’m packing, I just zone-in to the task and make it as perfect as possible.
How many pack jobs have you completed so far?
I don’t know. It would be in the thousands.
What are your skydiving career goals?
I want to become a tandem master, that’s my end goal. I want to travel the world with this skill and gain more life experience, meet people…live the lifestyle of a skydiver is pretty much what I’m after [laughs].
When did you know you wanted to be a skydiver?
Point Break [laughs]. After watching that, I said, ‘I’m going to be a skydiver’. I always wanted my first skydive to be a solo but when I was around 23, my girlfriend at the time bought me a tandem. I did it and I loved it. That was it. My head was all about the skydiving dream then.
What do you like to do when you’re not working at the drop zone?
Back home my hobbies usually revolved around being creative. I played drums in a family band as well as a few others on the weekends. I also love to draw. If for some reason I find myself in front of a pen and paper, look out to whomever I’m with because a funny (and accurate) caricature will be coming their way [laughs]. I’m also really into photography and creating video content on social media sites like Snap Chat. Most posts contain skydiving, work and me being a clown, making people laugh. I love socialising. I’m the king of being super social. I don’t know if that’s a hobby, but I enjoy talking to people. I’ll go out of my way to meet someone. That’s why I love working in skydiving. You’re always around new people, many are tourists and travellers. And that feeds my dream of travelling too. Other than that, I play on a volleyball team with friends every Tuesday and go to the gym every other day. This summer I’m hoping to get into kitesurfing and also sign up for an Improv class, because why not?
What are the best things about working for Skydive Geronimo?
I get to fly to work which is always cool. Besides packing, I love editing passenger videos. I’ve always been creative so I like that side of the job. I come to work every day excited to see the look on passengers’ faces as they do their tandem skydive over Rottnest, Broome or Busselton. I try to make each video unique and personalised for every customer. Every day is always different, that’s big thing I like about working here. And I’ve got the coolest boss. Glenn is the best guy. He’s a mate and a role model. I look up to him.
Sounds like Brendon is loving his new career in skydiving by way of the packing mat and editing room. It won’t be long before his dream of tandem instructor becomes a reality.
Fancy skydiving over Rottnest Island? Once you’re there, be sure to say hello to Brendon before your jump. And be nice, he’s the one packing your parachute.
To book a tandem skydive, or to enrol for an Accelerated Free Fall course to learn to skydive solo, contact the friendly team at Skydive Geronimo today!