Veteran skydiver Brendon MacRae celebrated 30 years in the industry by taking to the air with his 18-year-old daughter for her first solo jump.

The 47-year-old, who notched up his "14,000-and-something" skydive on the day, said accompanying Kendyll, who turned 18 two days before the jump, was the best way of celebrating his own milestone.

"She had two instructors with her and I was just freefalling around her watching."

He said although he felt a little nervous on her behalf, he knew she would pull it off.


"She was confident and we'd talked about it a lot and I know how the sport works, so it didn't concern me too much."

His first jump in Gisborne at age 17 was on a static line from 3500ft (1066m).

"There was no freefall, as soon as you jumped out the parachute opened.

"Now you jump solo from 12,000ft (3658m) with two instructors and the person is trained to open the 'chute."

He said his first solo skydive had him hooked on the sport.

The qualified joiner moved to Napier at the age of 21, and did a lot of skydiving from Bridge Pa airport.

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"There was no commercial side when I started and I guess it was expensive at the time.

"It was at the point where if you needed to buy jeans for $100 you would do three skydives instead."

He moved to Taupo 22 years ago to work for Taupo Tandem Skydive, the country's first full-time skydive operation.

During his time as a jumper he managed to get his mother, Anita MacRae, into the sport and she did half a dozen solos and several tandems in Taupo before retiring.

Mr MacRae, who is now chief safety officer and quality assurance manager for the company, said the industry had gone ahead in leaps and bounds.

"When I came there were only three skydivers doing 1000 jumps a year. Today we have 12 to 13 tandem instructors and 23 to 30 staff."

In his 30-year career he has never injured himself or a passenger, and still gets a thrill from the sport.