Maroochydore is a rapidly-growing coastal holiday destination. It has a mix of high-rise blocks interspersed with lower development and housing from the 1950s. Its population is around 17,500 and it's the geographical and commercial heart of the Sunshine Coast.
Sitting at the estuary of the Maroochy River, Maroochydore has kilometres of golden beaches, boating, fishing, small shopping centres and some light industrial development in the hinterland.
Maroochydore is not just about relaxing and enjoying quiet times. It's where you can join the Heli Dive team and have an insight into what navy seal teams and para-rescue divers do as part of their everyday work. Heli Dive is the only organisation in the world that can train and accredit divers in insertion by helicopter as a means of water entry. It's an adrenaline-pumping experience you'll never forget!
Insertion is usually exclusive to military and rescue personnel, but Heli Dive gives the same opportunity to civilians who have a PADI Open Water Dive certificate and have logged at least 10 open water dives.
Once you have that, just take along swimming gear and towel and your own dive equipment. They can assist with everything or a combination of items at no extra cost.
The one-day course starts with an aviation/water safety briefing in the Heli Dive hangar at Maroochydore Airport. Each team is given a set of keys before leaving on their mission. They are transferred to the drop zone, one team at a time, flying at low level.
They jump from the helicopter and head to a marker buoy, which emits a signal denoting where the elusive secret files are. They then descend using 18 metres of line and search for a canvas bag which holds a metal box. This is where the keys come in. The box contains a buoy and recovery line which shoots to the surface, signalling to the support crew that the box has been located and opened.
They also have to recover the Top Secret files from the same box, close the box and return to the boat. There they'll crack a code to open yet another box aboard the boat. This one contains cold drinks and snacks.
Heli Dive's chief pilot is Captain Stuart Caton. He has 16 years of aviation experience and has 3500 hours of flying to his credit and has been training personnel in helicopter air-crewing techniques since 1997.
If this sounds like an experience you would love to have, don't forget you need a PADI Open Water Dive certificate and you must have at least 10 open water dives in your log book. Pro Dive can assist with this, and their details are below.