Any skydiving event has many moving parts, all of which must be carefully considered and balanced in service of success. Victory lies in the details, where each successful assumption of even small responsibilities by the organisers allows the attending skydivers to focus on their goals – whatever they may be. The level of investment required by our sport means there can often be a great deal of pressure on an operation as an event draws near, particularly with something of scale to which people may have traveled far. We are certainly not alone in the world in wanting our sport to feel like a grand adventure, but at the same time be smooth and comfortable.
Paradise Portugal was once the last big aerial hootenanny of the European Summer, but local politics squeezed the scope of skydiving over the town of Alvor – all but completely ruining the possibility of boogies and skills camps. Skydiving feels so important to those who pursue it that it is easy to forget from the outside we can sometimes appear less wonderful than we think we are to people with zero investment. A nice, orderly tandem operation (or even no skydiving at all) can be way more appealing to a municipal airport than a sport skydiving event of any scale – where we fill up the sky all day and need places to eat and sleep and party.
Tora Tora’s Paradise event needed a new home, and a spot over the Winter holidays offers a pretty solid choice for those looking for something neither too quiet nor too busy. The dropzone does good business but is perhaps not what one would consider a ‘big’ operation. These issues of scale are surmountable in the European Winter – with any number of leasable turbine aeroplanes from further North available to support lift capacity. SkyTime is in town and on the beach, so while it lacks a proper camping area the road outside works for van parking and there is infrastructure nearby. The biggest peripheral asset for an event with over a hundred people is a large and decent hotel, which being well-appointed and a sixty-second walk from the dropzone means people can make the absolute most of the short days – able to get in the five or six jumps many require as a goal.
Skydiving lives in the hearts and minds of many as an ‘experience’, and this is correct – but it has grown over time into a rich and varied sport. Our progress is often driven by curiosity and passion, which can leave any purposeful structure to play catch-up. Some disciplines have developed a strong progression methodology, such as belly-flying and (more recently) canopy skills. Freeflying is something that for a long time now has needed forward progress in which the skills we earn are shared safely and efficiently. The transmission of things like angle-flying abilities is a wildly mixed bag – something that the Tora-Tora team (among others) is seeking to assist.
Winter Paradise exists on the heels of The Coach Masterclass – designed specifically for new coaches to find their feet in the realm of leading and organising. The first steps into the world of professional skydiving in this area can be very daunting, with a lot of things to get right all at the same time – so to include graduates of this programme on the coaches list at an event in the same location and the same piece of sky shows wisdom and understanding of where we need to aim, offering a measured environment to confidently apply their skills.