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Now I’m Free Freefallin’



Josh Mortel is 23 years old, Manager at Mortels Sheepskin Factory and regularly jumps out of planes 15,000ft off the groundfor fun. 

When it comes to pushing your mind and body to the limit, Josh Mortel is an expert. If he’s not at work making and selling high quality sheepskin and leather products, he’s looking for his next action sporting adventure. 

At the age of 16, Josh went skydiving for the first time whilst on a family trip to New Zealand. His sister and father signed up for a tandem skydive, and not wanting to be known as a ‘wuss’ as Josh puts it, he also signed up for the extreme experience. “After the tandem I didn’t think about skydiving much more,” said Josh.

“I thought what so many people think: “skydiving – tandem – done”. I didn’t actually know the depth that skydiving is as a whole.”

Josh has always been an action sport enthusiast, breakdancing at a high level from a young age and participating in parkour and various other extreme sports. “I was always pushing my physical and mental limits,” he said. 

“One day scrolling through my news feed I found a photo of an old friend, him in the sky upside down. At that moment I discovered that skydiving was a sport. I questioned him about it until I eventually sucked up my nerves and booked the AFF course for myself.”

Skydiving is the sport or activity of jumping from an aircraft and performing acrobatic manoeuvres in the air under free fall before landing by parachute. It is known as an ‘extreme sport’ as people jump from an aeroplane at around 10,000ft to 15,000ft in the air and fall to the ground at high speed.

The sport itself has so many levels to it, giving you the option to make it as extreme or as calm as you would like. Some forms of skydiving include solo flying to soak up the view (SOLO skydiving), flying flat on your belly with friends (FS), falling as fast as you can towards the ground (Speed-flying), wingsuit flying (a common favourite), parachute flying (Canopy Piloting), and flying vertically towards the ground in formation (Freeflying). 

To begin skydiving as a sport you need formal training, commonly referred to as “AFF” (Accelerated Free Fall) training. No one is allowed to skydive without this, with the exclusion of tandem skydiving. You can start this training without ever having done a tandem and with absolutely no experience. 

Once your training is complete (this can take anywhere from 1 week to 1 month depending on where you go, weather and money you are willing to spend) then you are free to train in any discipline you like the look of.

“Skydiving is one of the most mentally difficult things that a human can do… imagine standing inside a plane with the door open at 15,000ft then having to look out the door and JUMP,” said Josh.

“Once you step off the door, you are in a whole different planet. It’s 100% complete euphoria, the fear is now gone, and you are free. You are certainly not worried about the amount of toilet paper in your bathroom or what TV show is playing later that night. 40 seconds pass and now you deploy your parachute, once it is open you are now flying at a slow speed, safely towards the ground… you’ve done it!”

“When your feet softly touch the ground and you are safe that’s when the emotion really hits, “Wow! I’ve just done that”, and all of a sudden everything in life sounds so much easier. I think to myself ‘I jump out of planes now; I am going to nail this week at work’.”

Josh emphasised the point that anyone can skydive. Skydiving gives you the opportunity to make friends for life from all kinds of backgrounds. “I’ve skydived with lawyers, tradies, marketing consultants, I.T Experts, artists and so much more,” he said. 

There’s no fitness level required, you can simply turn up to your booking and start learning. There’s also a large range of events that skydivers can get involved with including dedicated learning camps or ‘Boogies’ where skydivers get together to have fun in the sky. “The skydiving community is full of fantastic, like-minded people who just love life and everything about it,” said Josh.

“No one is shy of saying G’day and making you feel welcome from day one. I have never seen or heard of any better community in any walk of life. If you go to a drop zone, jumping or no jumping, you will be welcomed with open arms.”

If you’re looking for a thrill, new hobby or an opportunity to make new friends, head to your local drop zone and do a jump. It’s not only lots of fun, but there’s a high chance of your life being changed for the better. 

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