With his eyes tightly closed and his body floating just below the clouds,
the strong breeze on his face was the only thing reminding
Corporal Dakalo Mavhungu that he was 1 500 feet (about 457 metres) above the ground when he performed his first sky jump.
Last year Mavhungu, 23, became the youngest skydiver at the South African Defence Force (SANDF).
“During my fi rst jump I was just praying that the parachute opens.
I could not open my eyes; I kept them closed the whole time. My very first jump was a day jump,” recalled Mavhungu.
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After completing his matric at Maswie Secondary School in Tshakhuma, Limpopo, in 2009 he pursued a career in mechanical engineering at the Techniven Technical College.
But after a year, Mavhungu’s interest in engineering waned and he felt the need to serve his country and its people.
“I love everything about being a soldier – keeping fi t, giving service to your country and helping other people.
I come from a family where helping the community has always been at the centre, with my father being a pastor, so joining this profession came naturally to me.”
In 2011, Mavhungu joined the military and after completing his six months of basic training, he joined 7 Medical Battalion, a unit within the SANDF that gives medical support to other units.
In the same year, he also began his journey into the world of parachuting by joining the 44 Parachute Regiment, which is South African Army’s chief airborne unit and is based at the Tempe Military Base near Bloemfontein.
“I underwent six weeks of training to learn the basics of parachuting.”
He explains that his course consisted of physical training, jumping from an aircraft and other elements.
“Part of physical training consisted of combat training where we trained for three days without sleep or rest.”
Another component was ground training in a hangar and jumping from a Dakota aircraft.
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