The United Nations Skydiving Brotherhood. 33 Years strong

By Fuz Caforio


How it all began.
Back in November 1988, brothers Marco and Fuz Caforio arrived at Wonderboom Dropzone having completed their freefall conversions at Triangle Parachute Club in Vanderbijl Park.

They met Beppe Piazzoli, part owner and then manifest officer at Pretoria Skydiving Club and a close friendship was formed.

Soon thereafter, another Italian, Giuseppe Zabotto joined them and together with another regular skydiver, Brian Schwartz, they became a small group jumping together most weekends.

The group honed their skills under the mentorship of Beppe Piazzoli, who was a celebrated skydiver at that time.

They were often found in the shade of a large tree at the dropzone, deep in discussion about the upcoming jumps. Talk was always animated and delivered in a mixture of English, Afrikaans and Italian! It was at this point that somebody quipped: "You guys sound like the United Nations talking in foreign languages!" It wasn't too long after this that other skydivers jokingly started to refer to them as the UN.

The UN's Club Badge affixed to the table under the tree where they congregate.

Celebrating thirty years together as a team.

The team that on Saturday 25 September competed in the 8 Way Speedstar discipline.
Front row left to right; Madelein Schmidt Ries, Giuseppe Ziaboto & Marco Caforio.
Back row left to right; Angelo Castignani, Fuz Caforio, Dave Cronje, Tony Straughan & Eddie Hanekom.

The group grew steadily when Stefano Zabotto, Angel Castignani, Madeleine Viljoen (still the only female member to date) and Eddie Hanekom were invited to join under the continued mentorship of Beppe.

Practising leaving the aircraft……

……. flying to the hook up in formation

…….and forming to formation.

In December 2006, Beppe Piazzoli was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. It was at this point that the group decided to dedicate themselves to the memory of their mentor and the 'United Nations Skydiving Brotherhood' was officially formed. A badge was designed incorporating Beppe's license number: D16 and each member proudly wears it on their jump suit.

Actually leaving the aircraft…….

………. forming up

……. almost there

…… the result, a perfect formation

And the reward? Being again crowned the winners of the Peter Lawson Cup 2021

The group continues to grow to this day, with the addition of Tony Straughan, Mike Talerico, Nic Karigiannakis, Dave Cronje, Dave Wright and Manny Cordeiro over recent years. It may very well be the oldest group of active skydivers in South Africa today with ages ranging from 47 to 70. We calculate our total age to be in the region of 684 years!

The Brotherhood today:
Giuseppe Zabotto. "The Godfather". D236. Age: 70
Angel Castignani. "The Stuntman". D712. Age: 66
Dave Wright. "Paparazzi". (Camera man). C1886. Age: 63
Marco Caforio. "Shrapnel Man". D871. Age: 61
Fuz Caforio. "The Artist". D872. Age: 59
Eddie Hanekom. "Major Ed". C1820. Age: 56
Manny Cordeiro. "Pablo". D392. Instructor: 161E. AFF Instructor: A122(E)(U). Age: 55
Madeleine Viljoen. "Princess". C1837. Age: 49
Tony Straughan. "Batman". C888. Age: 51
Dave Cronje. "yo-yo". C1915. Age: 59
Mike Talerico. "The American". D20253 (USPA). Age: 49
Nic Karigiannakis. "Fatboy". D875. Age: 46

The UN is not a group dedicated to the rigors of competition. They get together every fortnight to jump and enjoy the close bond that the sport of skydiving has given them over the years. Their motto is, and will always remain: "Have fun, be safe and drink beer. PS: Don't forget to have fun!" They continue to do this in honour of Beppe Piazzoli, their beloved mentor.

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