The Moruya Bridge Swoop

The Moruya Bridge Swoop is a sorta kinda annual event down at Skydive Oz where the CI, Richie Dronow, and friends swoop under the Moruya Bridge in front of Waterfront Hotel.  This years jump happened yesterday and was a blast.

I grabbed Richie and had a chat about how the jump came about and what goes into it.

Marcus:  Hey Richie. How’s it going? First up, how long has the Bridge Swoop been going on for?

Richie:  Hey Marcus. I think me and [Chris] Garcia did it first about 6 or 7 years ago. The original idea came from Dan Smith who was an instructor here at Skydive Oz when I first arrived.  He saw that I had a Leia and had an idea about doing the swoop but it just never happened for one reason or another.  So when Garcia moved back over here from Western Australia I mentioned the idea and we got to doing all the research.  Checking the available space under the bridge during high and low tides and all that stuff just to see if was possible.  It turned out that it was, so we gave it a crack.

Marcus:  How did it go?

Richie:  So the first time we did it just in single file.  So Garcia went through first and he got out the other end, but I was a bit short and nearly made it but not quite.  The second year we did it Garcia had a mal off the door…

Marcus:  Oh yeah, I remember that…

Richie:  I got through, but Garcia was fighting his mal for ages and you could just see he was like ‘I’m not giving up’ but eventually he had to cut away and landed his reserve next to me in the river.  The next year we had to take a break because of the bushfires but that gave us time to start training to do it synchronised.  So the third time we did it we did it synchronised but each under our own pylon which went really well so we thought bugger it if we’re going to do it again we might as well go through the same pylon and that was the last time we did it both going through the same pylon at the same time.

Marcus:  How much extra planning goes into the jump compared to an everyday swoop?

Richie:  Ah heaps, especially because it’s synchronised. If you’re the leader my job isn’t really to worry where Garcia is but rather it’s all about the navigation to make sure that we are at the right spot at the right time so that when we start that turn we’re set up right.  Garcia as the follower is really just following me but then its his job to be in the right spot and to know the timing of the turn because when you start the turn you lose sight of the other person before you pick them up again as you finish the 360.  So for the first part of the turn as I come around I can see him but then when I come around to finish the turn I can’t see him and you just hope that they’re in the right place and doing the turn also and have got the timing right otherwise they will just come into you.  So there’s a lot of trust when you’re doing everything so tightly when you’re both trying to get under the same pylon.

Marcus:  And what’s the reaction like from the locals at the Waterfront? Do you think they realise just how much skill is involved in this or do they just see two skydivers having a bit of fun?

Richie:  It’s kind of funny – doing the synchronised part under the same pylon is more for our pleasure because it’s a lot more technical.  I mean if you put three single files through the pylon the crowd probably wouldn’t know too much different.  But the crowd loves it. The first two years we didn’t even publicise it.  We just went and did it. We thought what if we screw it up or something goes wrong?  So we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it.  But then the last couple of years especially the last one we did with the good video it got publicised a fair bit and is now a bit of a thing.

Marcus:  Who’s doing the jump with you this year?

Richie:  So, there’s me and George Sheather.  He’s a really good canopy pilot who’s on the Australian Canopy Piloting team and runs gates so he’s definitely got the ability although we’ll be running it in in single file this year.

Marcus:  So this is going to become a full on tradition for Skydive Oz and The Waterfront?

Richie:  I hope so. In all honesty, I was hoping to get some Lightnings.

Marcus: [Pulls a confused face]  CRW rigs?

Richie:  Yeah, some 143’s because what I really want to do is parabatics.  Like a rock a down plane literally right in front of the crowd and literally just turn it side by side to about 50 feet and just scare the absolute shit out of the crowd.  Just steam it down and just take it back to a side by side at the last moment and just fly it out into the river.   That’s my next plan at least just to take it to the next level!

Marcus:  Holy moly. Well, I can’t wait to see that one buddy! Thanks for having a chat and good luck with the jump!

So there you have it folks – you heard it here first!  2024.  Parabatics at Moruya Bridge!

Thanks to Bindi, Naresh and Katie for the 2023 footage!


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