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» 01 Oct 2009

Mauritius is famous for many things; dodos (or rather the lack thereof), beautiful beaches, warm blue seas and sunny skies. One thing it is not famous for is sky-diving, not surprising really, as up until now there has been nowhere in the country where it is available.

The Partnership

Skydiving in Mauritius is very new indeed. It all began back around Easter of 2006 when Christopher Wilkinson-Pearce met Gaetan Paquay at a party. Chris had been skydiving in Zimbabwe since 1988 and had been considering starting skydiving in Mauritius for some time. Gaetan had skydived in Burundi in 1993 and was also an aviation fanatic, his wife Alexandrine also just happened to be Mauritian – and so all the pieces fell into place. They agreed to take up the challenge and try a skydiving business together.

From 2008 to 2009 preparations for the commencement of business took place at Mon Loisir. The old  dairy farm which had previously been there had to be demolished and scrub and bush removed. The site also contained a forty year old disused runway, which was restored and a new hangar was built. The plane which is used for skydiving is a Cessna 182. It was bought in the USA, shipped to South Africa and assembled and flown in stages to Mauritius where it finally touched down in April.

Tandem Skydiving

Tandem skydiving refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected via a harness to an instructor. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump, from exit, through free-fall, piloting the canopy and landing. The student needs only minimal instruction before making a tandem jump.

Tandem instructors are required to pass an instructor certification course for the system they jump, before skydiving with students. Most countries have varying laws or regulations as to who may sky-dive with a passenger or student. In the United States, the FAA requires every potential instructor to have over five hundred individual sky-dives and three years of skydiving experience. At Sky Dive Austral they have instructors trained to American standards.

Tandem skydiving is a very popular training method for first time skydivers as it exposes them to the activity with the comfort and safety of having a professional in close proximity at all times. The training consists of many of the activities performed by any skydiving student, for example how to exit the aircraft, how to do manoeuvres in free-fall, and how to deploy the main canopy. However, the instructor remains primarily responsible for safe and timely parachute deployment.

The Jump

The Instructors carry two parachutes with them, the main parachute and a reserve for back up. An added safety feature is the Automatic Activation Device (AAD) which monitors the the fall to the ground and automatically deploys the second parachute at a height of two thousand  feet if the main parachute has not yet been activated. Free fall usually lasts for a maximum of sixty seconds before the main parachute is released.

Tandem skydiving requires equipment with several differences from normal sport skydiving. All modern tandem skydiving systems use a drogue parachute, which is deployed shortly after leaving the plane in order to decrease the skydivers' terminal velocity. This is necessary for proper parachute deployment, lengthening the duration of the skydive, and allowing the skydivers to fall at the same speed as videographers.

Tandem skydiving system also uses larger main parachutes, of at least three hundred and sixty square feet, to support the additional weight of two passengers. At Skydive Austral they use the SIGMA system which is manufactured by United Parachute Technologies and was invented by Bill Booth, the inventor of tandem jumping and who has been the single biggest contributor to the inventions and development of Skydiving equipment.

At twelve thousand feet the Sesna will slow down and you will jump from the plane. Free fall lasts no longer than sixty seconds and approximately four minutes later you will be safely down on terra firma and will have completed your first skydive!

And that is all there is to it. In the future, Skydive Austral will be opening a skydiving school. It only takes four hours of ground work and seven to ten tandem jumps with an instructor before you can solo jump. So, if you are looking for a unique holiday experience with high speed and adrenaline why not come back to Mauritius and learn skydiving? One thing I can say for sure, you could not pick a better location or more fun people in the entire world to do it with.


Z.I., Mon Loisir S.E., Riviere du Rempart, Mauritius
Cell: +230 4214987, +230 4995551
Fax: +230 4126520

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