Defence parachutists take to the sky

Published on CAPT Felicity Hamblin (author), LAC Craig Barrett (photographer)

Location(s): Rutherford, NSW

Topic(s): Sport

Petty Officer Marilyn Tomlinson of HMAS Kuttabul prepares for rigging her parachute during the Australian Defence Parachuting Championships held at the Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Rutherford, NSW. (photo: LAC Craig Barrett)
Petty Officer Marilyn Tomlinson of HMAS Kuttabul prepares for rigging her parachute during the Australian Defence Parachuting Championships held at the Royal Newcastle Aero Club at Rutherford, NSW.

Parachutists brightened the sky over Newcastle this week as they took part in the Australian Defence Parachute Championships from 16 to 20 December.

Around 55 competitors from all three services took to the skies during the annual competition, battling it out in events such as formation skydiving, which involved manoeuvring their bodies relative to one another while free-falling up to 200km/h and making as many different formations as time allows.

Teams also competed in canopy rotations, which involved linking canopies together and performing continual rotations during the jump.

The competitors spent two days training with their coaches before the competition began, giving them the chance to hone their skills before the serious rivalry started.

Navy’s Petty Officer Matthew Holmes from HMAS Cerberus, who has completed 210 jumps, said enjoyed the opportunity to gain some valuable skydiving experience with the more senior skydivers who gave the newer members some tips.

“There’s a great amount of camaraderie here and a lot of the more experienced jumpers take the time to help us out,” PO Holmes said.

PO Marilyn Tomlinson from HMAS Kuttabul has been involved with defence parachuting for the past three years and is about to reach a milestone in her jumping career.

“I’m coming up to 500 jumps which has mostly been from four way flat formation skydiving. The aim of this week for me though is helping the junior guys develop and get more points in the sky,” PO Tomlinson said.

Australian Defence Parachuting Association (ADPA) President, Captain Francisca Molnar said it was a great opportunity for the enhancement of the parachuting skills of defence members.

“ADPA have had some great achievements, both domestically and internationally, in the last three years. This competition will be used as a means to prepare defence skydivers for competition, not only in Australia, but overseas in 2014.

“A lot of hard work goes into it. Teamwork, excellence and will to win are key attributes of military service brought out in the sport,” Captain Molnar said.

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132628.