James grew up on a farm in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands and from a young age he developed a deep love of the outdoors and adventure. He has also always been a keen climber and traveller. A qualified lawyer, James worked as the VP of a mining exploration company that listed in London and Toronto. Following the successful sale of the mining business, James was able to give expression to his love of flying by becoming a partner in The Airplane Factory. He was one of the three-person team to fly their South African designed-and-built light aircraft, Sling 4, around the World. This included a 30-hour flight from Brazil to South Africa across the Atlantic Ocean.