A skydiver photographed near Mossel Bay
  • Parachuting is legal again as of Thursday morning, when an update to transport lockdown regulations was finally published.
  • If the necessary paperwork can be done in time, some skydiving clubs say, they can be operational by the weekend.
  • Many people who need to get jumps in for proficiency certification, so finding a seat could be hard.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Skydiving clubs could be open this weekend, after an update to transport regulations was finally published on Thursday morning, much to the relief of those deeply involved in the sport.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced on Monday that more commercial airports would reopen, and that parachute jumps would be allowed again, intimating this would happen on 1 July.

But the regulations making that legal were only signed on 1 July, and published on the morning of 2 July.

Under the new rules, general aviation operations immediately allowed include "parachuting" and "aerial advertisement, including banner towing and other towing of objects".

Skydiving clubs are now waiting on the Civil Aviation Authority to issue the necessary notices, which will allow pilots to take parachuters up.

"All should be clear by tomorrow," said the Aero Cub's Rob Jonkers.

Clubs are also waiting on rules for social distancing, in the context of a light aircraft with a bunch of parachute jumpers in the back. These are expected to include a capacity limit, as with other forms of transport such as minibus taxis. 

(Large commercial planes may be loaded very close to their full capacity thanks to ventilation and air-filtration systems no present in the planes people typically jump out of.)

See also: Airport buses are limited to 70% capacity as flights resume Monday – but planes can be full

Something of a rush is expected as soon as jumpers can go up, and first-time and tandem jumpers may face a bit of wait.

During lockdown some skydivers will have lost their proficiency certification, said Vernon Kloppers, chair of the Parachute Association of South Africa. They will now have to retrain.

Then there are the enthusiasts who have been denied their sport for more than three months.

"Guys will be itching to get a few jumps in," said Kloppers.

Several clubs say they have been preparing to return to operations, and should be able to open this weekend.

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