Becoming A Tandem Outside Camera Flyer

Last updated 03 Jan 2024

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Have you ever wanted to fly outside camera for tandems? We caught up with Laura Sadler from Skydive Dubai to see how it all began for her, and to get some top tips for aspiring camera flyers.


Quick intro, who are you and what is your job?

My name is Laura Sadler. I have 11,892 skydives and have been jumping for 11 years. I am a Tandem Instructor and Camera Flyer at Skydive Dubai.

Laura Sadler outside camera at Skydive Dubai taken by Daniel

How long have you been flying outside camera for tandems?

I started training outside camera for tandems as soon as I was allowed a camera on my helmet, which was around 200 jumps while I was working as a parachute packer at Skydive Abel Tasman in Motueka, New Zealand.

Where/how did it begin for you?

I was about to start my job on the ski field in New Zealand and spent half the money I had on a skydive in Queenstown. I was afraid of heights and thought it would be a good idea to try something new. As soon as I did the jump, I just knew there and then that my dream was to be a tandem instructor, so I signed up for the B-Licence package when I finished the ski season.

What did your progress look like?

I started jumping in 2012 and I was a parachute packer at Skydive Abel Tasman for 3 years, desperate to get on video but there just weren't any slots in the jump staff to move up. So I left and went to Lodi, California. I started flying camera there and got my tandem rating at 1,000 jumps. I started sending my tandem videos to the manager at Skydive Dubai at the time, asking her for a job, but she said I didn't have enough tandems but to keep up the good work. I continued to send her videos and then on my last month in California, when I had 198 tandems, I told her I had a job lined up at Skydive Mexico but would still like to be in Dubai one day. She responded saying someone had just left Skydive Dubai and they were willing to hire me. So I went to Dubai and I've been there for 8 years now.

Laura Sadler outside camera at Skydive Dubai taken by Infinite Skydive 

What are your top tips for aspiring camera flyers?

Check your videos! From 200 jumps to now, with close to 12,000 jumps, I still check every single camera jump footage I do. I rarely look at a video and think that's perfect, as there's always something that can be improved on, whether it's framing, different angles or smoothness. From the beginning I got on every tandem load I could that didn't have video so I could practice and I found that helped a lot. Get comfortable flying camera wings fast speed and slow speed. Figuring out how the tandem instructor exits first before getting too close is important. Consistency is key! Keep working on it!

What are your top gear recommendations for camera flyers?

I started out with vertical wings, which are great jackets, but I now fly with Brandon Johnson's "Ghost wings", which are essentially just the wings with no jacket because of the heat in Dubai, and they are just as powerful. I use Tonfly 2x helmets, Brent's 1/4" ringsight and my current camera set up is GoPro 10 for video and we're moving up to GoPro 12 in January for stills.

What's your favourite thing about camera flying? Do you have any personal goals in skydiving moving into 2024?

Those first few seconds as I leave the plane before they throw the drogue it feels like slow motion, I love that. I also love seeing the customers go through so many different feelings before and during the jump. Also when I get a good day of solid framing I'm stoked. Personal goals...to keep improving my video quality. I am currently doing belly flying for the palm shots, which is new for me this season because I've seen from other people's videos that the angle is much better and the orbit looks cooler with the city shots underneath, so I am working on trying to make the sit fly to belly transition as smooth and unnoticeable as possible.

Laura Sadler outside camera at Skydive Dubai taken by Infinite Skydive


Get in touch with your local drop zone if you want to learn more about progressing to become a camera flyer for tandems.

If you would like to submit an article, or have a topic request for the APF Blog, please email blog@apf.com.au

[Photo Sources: Andrew Ford, Daniel McKimm]

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