Former Whangarei Woman Parachutes into Air Force Career

19 July 2019

After the adrenalin rush of a tandem parachute jump five years ago, new Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Parachute Jump Instructor Jonelle Webb knew she was keen on parachuting as a career.

Corporal Webb graduated this month at RNZAF Base Auckland in the Parachute Training and Support Unit, after a year of training in the skills and techniques and learning how to teach them to novice jumpers.

Originally from Whangarei, Corporal Webb joined the New Zealand Army in 2014, a year after leaving Albany Senior High School.
However, after deciding she wanted to earn her living parachute jumping she transferred to the RNZAF in August 2018 to train as a jump instructor.

The RNZAF’s Parachute Training Support Unit at Whenuapai now has 10 instructors and is the only base in the country with a parachute military training unit. 

“When I started freefall training I was scared for the first four jumps,” Corporal Webb said. 

“In those first jumps you are learning how to control yourself in the air, learning the effect of relative air flow on your body and how to control your arms and legs in the air and not spin out of control.”

By about the fifth jump it became more normal, she said.

“You have just 45 seconds of freefall to learn those critical skills each time you go up.”

As a new Parachute Jump Instructor she teaches the Basic Static Line course. This includes teaching ground skills such as landings (on mats), jumping off platforms, suspension in harnesses for drills, and practising exits in the mass exit trainer from the mock C-130 Hercules aircraft.

“As you get more experience you get to teach other categories – different parachute systems and more advanced courses,” she said.

She believes everyone should jump from a plane at least once in their life.

“Nothing beats the feeling.”

This page was last reviewed on 19 July 2019.