Ground rush team formed in love of skydiving

Morad and Antoine are doing a CRW skill here known as a Downplane – Photo provided by Antoine Collette

Morad and Antoine Collette are both members of the Canadian Armed Forces with a passion for skydiving.

“It’s something that’s not compared to anything. It’s such a unique feeling. Like, during a jump, you don’t think about anything else. You’re just in that moment having a blast and you can’t get that feeling elsewhere,” said Collette about his favourite thing about skydiving.

Collette is also a member of the Canadian Armed Forces parachute team, Skyhawks Canada.

“I thought I’d give it a try and submit my application,” said Collette.

This is what the Skyhawks do as part of their demonstrations in the sky – Photo by Dennis Sattler

The Skyhawks are a demonstration team and have demonstrated parabatics shows over 4200 times.

“They do shows. They do demonstration jumps. So, we train during the whole winter, and then during the summer, we travel around Canada and the United States to do shows. So, we perform at air shows and venues,” said Collette.

Due to the fact that the Skyhawks are a military parachuting team in Canada, their parachutes are a big Canada flag – Photo by Dennis Sattler

Collette joined the Skyhawks in 2018 and demonstrated with them in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 and 2021, the Skyhawks haven’t been doing any shows due to COVID, but they’re hoping to be back in 2022.

“The team is looking to perform in 2022, so I’m looking to go back to the team for next year and looking forward to maybe doing more shows,” said Collette.

Collette and the Skyhawks went and trained at Skydive Perris in California for a few days in 2019 – Photo provided by Antoine Collette

Collette’s favourite thing about being on the Skyhawks is that he gets to meet many different people.

“Skydiving is a thing I love, and being able to show people what I love and to perform, and meeting them, and see their reactions, that’s the biggest thing for me,” said Collette.

So far, Collette’s favourite place to have traveled to with the Skyhawks is Penticton, British Columbia.

“That was probably the most beautiful landscape we jumped into,” said Collette.

The Skyhawks have been in operation since 1969 – Photo provided by Antoine Collette

Collette and Morad met in 2019 at the tryouts for the Skyhawks team.

They both currently skydive out of the Parachutisme Adrénaline Saint-Jérôme location in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec.

“There’s always a lot of interesting people around you. And there’s always an opportunity to learn something new all the time, as a rigger, as a freefly instructor, as a coach, as a tandem instructor or as a regular jumper, and they can pass that knowledge to you,” said Morad about his favourite thing about working at the dropzone.

“You have so many brilliant people trying so much dangerous stuff and pushing the boundaries. Even if it’s dangerous it doesn’t mean you have to throw yourself into it. You can calculate the dangers and try to minimize what can go wrong,” he added.

Morad and Antoine met each other when they were at the tryouts for the Skyhawks – Photo provided by Morad

Both Morad and Collette realized right away that they wanted to continue in the sport of skydiving after their first jumps.

“Right away. I’d say even before boarding the aircraft I knew I wanted to do it for sure,” said Morad.

“All the guys landing before me, I watched them in the sky, I saw them freefall, because when you’re on the ground, and people are jumping from 13,500 ft. you can actually see dots falling, and someone pointed them to me and said, ‘you see that? That’s the other load jumping,’ and I was amazed to see that,” he added.

Morad knew right away he wanted to continue skydiving – Photo provided by Morad

Collette and Morad both work as tandem instructors in Saint-Jérôme.

“It’s all about living your first jump again, through the client. Most of the time, it’s there first jump, so you kind of go back to yours as well,” said Collette about his favourite part about being a tandem instructor.

Morad communicating with a student in the air on a radio as part of his ground instructor job – Photo provided by Morad

While Morad is also a ground instructor and coach for the students learning to skydive. Before he became a tandem instructor, Morad worked as a cameraman for tandem skydives.

“I was an external cameraman jumping with tandems and I loved it. I loved to see the client, play with the client in the air, and see their expression. And for me, there’s only one point that is the key moment that I loved the most as a cameraman,” said Morad.

“And that was, when the person is at the door and has a lot of fear in their eyes and they don’t know what to do and the tandem instructor is just pushing them out of an aircraft. And seeing the fear in their eyes, as soon as they are in freefall, goes from fear to no fear at all,” he added.

Morad filming Antoine with a tandem client – Photo provided by Morad

Last winter, they formed the Ground Rush Team. An extracurricular team for Morad and Collette to skydive together with a focus on canopy relative work (CRW).

“It started as, we jump together and did a lot of funny things, and then we were doing CRW, where we join each other under parachute to get linked and do parabatics,” said Morad.  

Antoine has been working at the dropzone in Saint-Jérôme since 2020 – Photo provided by Antoine Collette

One such CRW skill Morad and Collette do is a downplane, which is when two skydivers have their legs locked together and their parachutes are going straight down.

“The ground rush. You see the ground coming at you really fast and you can’t achieve that angle of descent without being hooked to someone by your legs,” said Collette about what he enjoys about the downplane.

Morad and Antoine doing a downplane – Photo provided by Morad

Last year, Morad and Collette started teaching CRW to people who had never done it before.

“For people who have never done CRW before, we’d have a good briefing with them, jump with them, and under parachute, we would join them and create a stack,” said Morad.

“But skydivers are taught, when you open your parachute, if you see another parachute anywhere, you bail out. And basically, what we do in CRW, is, if you find that other parachute, go there and stack your parachute on his, so it’s a little counterintuitive for most skydivers,” he added.

Morad and Antoine stacking their parachutes as part of CRW – Photo provided by Morad

Due to Morad and Collette’s knowing each other for about three years now, they enjoy skydiving together and understand each other in the air.

“It’s easy. Everything is easy. Jumping together is always easy and intuitive. We do know each other well enough so that it’s easy for me or for him to know what I’m going to do, and therefore we can perform together well,” said Morad.

Morad and Antoine have a lot of friends who support them. One such friend designed the Ground Rush Team logo for them – Photo provided by Morad

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