Freeflyers reach for the sky
PLUMMETING towards the earth at 260kmh is nothing more than a walk in the park for Coolum Beach resident Blake Hooper.
The 33-year-old and his team took out a gold medal in the National Skydiving and Parachuting Championships for their freeflying display in Toogoolawah over the Easter break to secure their place in the Australian parachuting team.
Mr Hooper and team member Andrew Bain and cameraman Shea Convery, or Team Ninja Gangsters, will travel to Dubai for the world championships in November.
Freeflying is an expansion of skydiving.
It's about flying in head down and head up orientations, as opposed to the traditional style of flying belly to earth.
These positions increase freefall speed and make new types of formations possible.
"I just enjoy the freedom of it," Mr Hooper said.
Mr Hooper and Mr Bain performed for stunts while Mr Convery filmed it for the judges to score.
Difficulty and presentation are two key elements.
"I've never been to world championships before. It was a great moment to realise we were off to Dubai," Mr Hooper said.
"I know a lot of people from Europe who will be attending as well, so it will be good to catch up with old friends and have a good go at the competition.
"I've always wanted to skydive since I was a kid so this is a dream come true for me."
The Sunshine Coast had plenty of representation in the nationals.
Wayne and Susie McLachlan, the owners of Skydive Ramblers, based at the Sunshine Coast Airport, took out multiple medals themselves and in teams.
Australian Parachute Federation competitions director Lisa Perdichizzi said this year's event was the biggest in its 16-year history.