What’s 768 years old with over 46,000 jumps?

Right then!  What’s 768 years old with over 46,000 jumps under their belt?

You got it 😊  It’s the SOS (Skydivers over Sixty) jumpers from WA who, last Sunday, set a new record when they jumped an 11 way, improving on their 10 way record set the previous day!

With an age range between 60-69 and years jumping ranging from 6 to 46 it’s an awesome achievement! 

So a massive congratulations to all the jumpers on the Saturday and the Sunday, Tom Kenny, Don Woodland, Shirley Cowcher, Ralph Presgrave, Kim Brooks, Bruce Harrison, Ian Wilkinson, Pedro Chan, Geoff Quinsee, Steve White, Alistair Bates, Mick Connolly and cameraman Adam Fiannaca.

I had a chat with Tom Kenny who organised the record to find out what went down and this is what he said!

Hi Tom, how it going?  Thanks for having a chat.  To start with can you tell me about the inspiration behind the jump?

G’day Marcus.  Well, when I tuned 60 and what not I got to thinking about my dad, Bill.  He had done so many things in Melbourne with so many firsts and that.  He still holds the high altitude record for Australia down at Packenham.  Him and 6 of his mates got the record at 32,500 feet.

Wow, when did he do that?

Well he’s no longer with us so I guess it must have been at least 40 years ago because it was before I started jumping.

So that was a bit of an inspiration for you?

Ah yeah for sure.  I grew up on the drop zone with Dad being one of the founders he started off with Commando 2 company and then they broke away and just made it Commando Skydivers.  And it went from there, mum did all the manifesting and what not and I was just out it the paddocks that was my weekends growing up.  So I always wanted to do something.  And then I was just sitting around and I noticed that the women did an all women record in Jurien Bay so I thought to myself I wonder about SOS and whether there was a WA record.  Well it turns out there wasn’t one, so I just spoke to a few people and they went yeah let’s do it!

Did you have a coach for the record attempt?

Yeah, Shirley (Cowcher) and Don (Woodland) were the coaches. I got all the foot work done to get people there but it was Don and Shirley that put everyone in their slots  taught everyone the proper way of doing it, it was absolutely great.  They knew how all of us flew in the sky so they were able to put us in the best positions.  It was brilliant having them there.

Did you do much practising before the weekend?

Yeah, yeah about a month or so ago we got everyone together we practised some 10 and 12 ways which helped although there were a couple of guys who couldn’t make it right up until the day we were doing it but we had a couple of guys filling in for them, but it gave Don and Shirley an idea of what they had to work with

What was it like on the weekend of the record?  Pretty intense or did you feel pretty relaxed about it all?

Nah, everyone felt quite comfortable.  The only thing was when we got there on the Friday it was really windy and blowy and very hot.  Saturday was the same so we didn’t end up doing the jump until the afternoon.  And even then the winds were still up a fair bit which is why it was only a ten way as a couple of guys weren’t happy with the weather.

Sunday though was absolutely beautiful.  We ended up doing the 11 way and then we tried to do it again and turn a couple of points put it didn’t work.   Well, we did do it and turned a star for the second point but we hadn’t nominated the jump with the judges so it didn’t count…

An unofficial record then!

Yeah.  But our 11 way stands as the SOS record in WA!

That’s fantastic mate!  Congratulations!  What was the biggest challenge on the day?

Mate, the winds and the heat were really bad.  I think they said it was up around 39-40 so we had lots of little burbles and thermals and that.

Jeez, were you packing your own rigs in that temperature?

Oh mate, it was ridiculous, but there was no way I wasn’t going to get on that first one so when they said they were going I was like alright I’m coming I’m coming!

Did you get on the beers afterwards?

After we did the first one on the Saturday we went to the pub and had dinner there and a few drinks but we knew we were going for another one the next day they didn’t go overboard. 

I guess getting the record on the Saturday took the pressure off for the Sunday

Mate, I got told off by Shirley on the Saturday because in the video of us as soon as we got the ten way and I counted and I went ballistic and was throwing my arms around and that and Shirley said you don’t do that you ALWAYS fly the formation.  Mate I didn’t care.  We got it.  I got my record.  It was all good stuff!  And then we broke it again on the Sunday.

So what’s next for you all, the sequential?

We’ll probably look at that and work on it, but my next project will be to set a WA POPs (Parachutists over Phorty) record.  The current WA record is 16 so I’m going to try and set a new record of around 26 later in the year at Hillman Farm.  I’m hoping to do it in September during Mumbles Burning Van.  Last year they had the two caravans which I’m hoping they have again for formation loads so we can get the 26 way up. Fingers crossed

So you heard it here first!  WA POPS record at Mumbles (hopefully) later in the year!  Given that I’m in my 50’s, I think I’ll head over and see if I can’t lend a hand for the record and enjoy the Burning Van experience!

Massive thanks to Tom for taking the time to have a chat. 

PS all the best to Tom (who will be display jumping the Aussie flag) and the rest of the Hillman Farm sky fam at SheepFest happening at Darken this weekend. Have a bonza time legends!

I’ll be hitting up Hamish for a full report of all the shenanigans!

PPS I hear on the grapevine that a national SOS record is in the works at Ramblers for June! Get on it you SOS jumpers and i look forward to hearing all about it!

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