LEAP OF FAITH: Jonell Goss, pictured bottom left, having just made the jump. Photo courtesy Skydivingphotography.
LEAP OF FAITH: Jonell Goss, pictured bottom left, having just made the jump. Photo courtesy Skydivingphotography.

High flying record holder

LOCAL skydiving enthusiast Jonell Goss, better known as Jonny, has flown into the record books, helping to break the Australian record for the largest skydiving formation.

After two weeks of training camps, 38 jumps, eight attempts and numerous minor injuries, the pressure was on when the 119 jumpers made their final freefall in California on Sunday, May 31.

"Most people were very nervous, I think most people were thinking 'we're not going to get it'," Ms Goss said.

Ms Goss said the team "had a good feeling" after their final attempt, with the last quadrant of the formation building quickly.

There was then an agonizing hour-long wait, with footage of the attempt being sent from the Californian jump-site back to Australia for scrutiny.

"We thought we had it but we didn't want to celebrate too early," she said.

"They had to check every single person and make sure they docked in the right location - so one person out would mean we couldn't get the record."

Footage revealed the formation held perfectly for an astonishing five seconds - a full two seconds longer than required.

Then it was time to celebrate.

"Basically, the bar opened," Ms Goss laughed.

"Lots of people were on their phones and on Facebook just spreading the word that we got the record."

After all the blood, sweat and tears, Ms Goss said "it was quite a relief" to accomplish what they had set out to achieve. "I personally didn't think that we were going to get it (before the final jump)," she said.

"It was an amazing experience."

The final attempt saw jumpers leave the aircraft at 20,000ft, giving them an extra 1,500ft to move into position.

"You basically have 13,000ft (before opening your parachute), which is just over a minute," Ms Goss said.

"Because it's such a big formation, normally you've got to break off a lot higher so everyone's opening their parachutes in their own space."

Despite the ordeal resulting in one broken leg, a strained ankle, a dislocated thumb, numerous shoulder injuries and a lot of hard landings, Ms Goss said the risks were "the same as any sport that you can get injured in".

"It's not particularly dangerous because safety is one of the things they really enforce," she said adding the injuries were all quite minor landing-injuries.

With the record under their belt, the team isn't resting on their laurels, hoping to go bigger and better in three years time.

"A lot of us are getting quite old now, so I don't know how many of us will still go across for it," Ms Goss laughed.

"I think it will be quite a hard record to beat."

On the home front, Ms Goss is working on her own skydiving enterprise here in the Whitsundays and wants to do "something more than just skydiving".

"I want to dive on the islands and beaches, just really unique locations," she said.


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