Champion Female Skydiver Dies While Trying Risky Jump
Adél Békefi/GettyImages

A champion female Australian skydiver died after she attempted a new method of jumping in Texas.

Melissa Porter, 29, had just won the gold medal along with her skydiving partner Josh Tassicker at the Australian Skydiving Championships this spring. But on June 24, she tried a risky maneuver called “swooping” at the Skydive Spaceland Houston facility with tragic results as the parachute reportedly opened but she did a hard landing.

“She’s my baby and she’s not coming home,” Porter’s mother Vinnie said. “That was her happy place. She’ll forever be in the sky roaming the world now.”

“Skydiving was her life,” coach Kristina Hicks told The West Australian. “She was loving (living in Texas) and being part of the diving community over there where there were opportunities to progress and work with some of the best divers in the world.”

In a “swoop landing,” the jumper performs maneuvers which increase the speed of the parachute, or canopy, so the jumper flies over the ground or water rapidly. The jumper creates “a surge that drives the canopy towards the ground. … Swoopers do this with just enough time to level out and stylishly glide across the ground,” SkyDive Monroe explains.

Porter reportedly fell in love with skydiving after watching her grandmother skydive. She took her first tandem skydive on her 14th birthday.

After she and Tassicker won the gold medal, Porter said, “We definitely didn’t expect to win. We only talked about potentially making a team like a few months before the national competition. It was a shock when we took gold but it’s been amazing — it definitely makes me want to compete further.”

“For so long the sport has been male-dominated,” Porter told the Sound Telegraph in March. “There’s this idea that women are too afraid or they’re too small, or they’re too light, all of these things and it’s absolutely not true, they are 100 per cent capable. It’s really cool for me to be able to be an instructor and to show other women it’s doable. I want to continue doing that for years.”

“Because I’ve been a full-time skydiver in the industry for so long, I don’t get a lot of time to ‘fun jump,’” she added.

On May 6, Porter completed the “2-point 23 way,” in which skydivers connect in the air, then let go into a “full break” and then all reconnect. “I am very, very excited to be a part of something like this,” she said before the event. “It’s not something I’ve ever done before and there’s so few of us that have the skillset to do it.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) stated, “We send our deepest condolences to the woman’s family.”

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