Learn how skydiving changed and shaped this Kiwi’s life
When Paul Morton joined the Skydive Geronimo team in 2016, we were so impressed with his safety practises, professionalism and customer service skills that we offered him the role of Operations Manager and Chief Instructor at our Busselton drop zone.
Paul is often remembered by his tandem skydive passengers as friendly, outgoing, enthusiastic and willing to do whatever it takes to make the experience a positive and memorable one. For Paul, skydiving is more than a job, it’s his passion and purpose.
He’s been jumping from perfectly good airplanes since the turn of the century (that makes him sound ancient, doesn’t it?) and has logged more than 13,300 skydives since.
Let’s learn a little bit more about Paul and how skydiving has shaped his life.
How did you get into skydiving?
When I was 23, I did a tandem at home, in New Zealand, and loved it so much that I decided to learn. I had been travelling in Europe and Africa and was meant to continue that journey but skydiving changed my life path.
When did you know you wanted skydiving to be a career?
Once I started getting paid to jump and I saw that the skydiving industry could not only pay my bills, but also progress my skills, I thought it was a win-win. It’s probably the best decision I’ve ever made.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
As the Chief Instructor and Drop Zone Safety Officer, it’s my duty to assess the weather each day, so that’s the first thing. If the weather is suitable for skydiving, I alert the other team members and we go to work. If the weather isn’t so good: raining, cloudy or high winds, I will put the start time “on hold,” which means I will re-assess the weather, usually in another one to two hours. If it’s on, I go to the airport and get ready for jumping. This includes checking the parachutes, or “gear” as we call it, for safety, meeting the customers and briefing them on what’s about to happen. Then I take someone for a skydive. Afterwards, I’ll re-pack the parachute and do it all over again.
What do you like best about being a skydiving instructor?
That I get to go skydiving all the time. That’s pretty cool. I like meeting new people. I like teaching skydiving and sharing my passion for the sport. I like the coordination that’s involved in running a drop zone, making sure it’s all running smoothly and safely. I like the challenge of the sport, and the fact that I get to introduce first-timers to our world is appealing to me.
You’ve been the poster boy for tandem skydiving in Australia and New Zealand since 2002. Why do you think photos of you consistently get chosen for marketing?
Because of my devilishly good looks, I suppose. Nah, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I know how to take a good photo? Maybe because I know how to pose for the camera. I’m always looking to get one money shot per passenger. The video and photo package is a big part of their experience and I take that seriously. I aim to get at least one shot that will make people go “wow” when they look at it.
What’s the coolest opportunity skydiving has offered you?
Skydiving has brought me heaps of cool experiences and opportunities. Back in 2002, I was chosen to be featured in and be the stunt double in a music video for the Korean pop-band, Position.
And when I was living and working in Fiji, I got to take contestants of the reality show Celebrity Treasure Island for a heli-skydive, which, of course, was on TV and all that. But really, developing skills required for base-jumping is one of the coolest side effects of learning to skydive. I’ve been fortunate to do several base-jumps in Kuala Lumpur where they hold an annual base-jumping event at the KL Tower.
And the opportunity to skydive amongst the Southern Alps in New Zealand, onto deserted islands in Fiji, Cable Beach in Broome, Rottnest Island, basically some of the world’s most beautiful places, is also awesome. And the people I’ve met through skydiving are amazing.
If you weren’t a commercial skydiver, what other career path would you have chosen?
[laughter] Professional football player*. Maybe I would have gone back to playing soccer, you never know. But I was also fighting [martial arts] by then and getting opportunities through that as well, but I didn’t pursue it because I was skydiving. I don’t know if I would have ever chosen MMA as a career but if we’re talking fantasy, then why not?
*Paul was an up & coming football star in his youth but gave up the sport at age 17.