Role Reversal: From Student to Instructor, and Vice Versa

Last updated 17 Jan 2024

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Around six years ago, Shelby du Moulin went for her first tandem skydive, with Tandem Instructor, Examiner and now APF Safety and Training Officer, Luke Oliver. Six years and three days on, Shelby completed her first jump as a Tandem Instructor, with Luke as her first tandem student. Talk about role reversal!


A tandem skydive to some people is nothing more than a personal challenge, a bucket list item, or even just a surprise gift, but to others it means a lot more. Most of you reading this will understand that, as a lot of you probably began your skydiving journey with a tandem, which ultimately changed your life to some degree.

Shelby's skydiving journey began in September 2017 when she went for a tandem skydive at Bribie Island. While she was excitedly sat in the plane, getting ready to jump out, little did she know that her life trajectory was about to change in an instant.

"I had no idea how much this sport would come to mean to me"

Shelby Tandem

From the moment Shelby landed on that first jump, her level of stoke was super high, which still makes her laugh when she rewatches the video. From that point on, her curiosity about the sport as a whole grew, as she asked her Instructor, Luke Oliver, any and every question she had, all of which he diligently answered. Within a few days of her first tandem, Shelby had requested for time off work and had booked her AFF Course at Skydive Ramblers. Around one month later, in late October 2017, Shelby had completed her AFF, and by New Years Eve she had 100 jumps under her belt.

Shelby Sport

"The following seven months were a phenomenal blur of adrenaline, a new community and complete elation with my new found passion"

After living in her swag at the drop zone for this initial period, Shelby eventually quit her job in Brisbane, got a job in Toogoolawah and moved into one of the drop zone cabins, which she now calls "home". The move allowed Shelby to continue charging into her new found passion, clocking up over 400 jumps in her first year. As a passionate fun jumper, she promised herself she would not do any ratings until she had over 1000 jumps. During her journey to 1000 jumps, Shelby received some of the best mentoring she has ever received from her initial Tandem Instructor, Luke, and they have developed a solid friendship along the way. 

Shelby AFF

Fast forward to March 2022, when Shelby decided it was time to do her Instructor Rating and AFF Endorsement. This new challenge allowed Shelby to share her love for skydiving with new students, an extremely special and rewarding experience. Then, come August this year, Shelby decided it was time to challenge herself a bit more and try her hand at tandems, arranging a course and informing Luke, who is also an Examiner, of her intentions. And of course, Luke decided to take on the course.

"We have spoken many times over the years about how cool it would be for me to take him for a tandem one day. Little did I know that he would end up being my first student. What an absolute dream it was to be able to do that together. That feeling after we landed will never leave me" - Shelby

Despite her confidence in her own abilities, the first tandem was obviously a nerve wracking experience, but having support from her friend and mentor on the front, Shelby wouldn't have been more comfortable with anyone else as her first student.

"It was my absolute honour and privilege to have roles reversed, six years later, almost to the day. Shelby makes me proud and this was such a rare opportunity in life. I love it" - Luke

A special experience for both Shelby and Luke. A moment they both know they will never be able to repeat or forget.

Shelby Luke Tandem


About the Author:

Lucy Clacher is a Tandem/AFF Instructor and Course Trainer, currently based at Skydive Jurien Bay. Originally from the UK, Lucy learnt to skydive whilst travelling Australia in 2019 and has been working in the industry ever since.

Thanks to Shelby and Luke for their contributions to this article.

Do you have a skydiving story you would like to share? Email us: blog@apf.com.au


[Photo Sources: Shelby du Moulin, Luke Oliver]

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