Tweed paramedic takes the parachuting plunge
SOME people's definition of sport involves kicking a ball round a field. But for Tweed Heads thrill-seeker Shane Turner, jumping out of a plane and hurtling towards earth at break-neck speed is more his style.
Turner, a 35-year-old paramedic, has been selected for Australia in the World Parachuting Championships this week on the Gold Coast, an event bringing together the best aerial artists from across 25 countries for an ethereal extravaganza.
Turner's art is speed. Competing in the speed skydiving discipline, the newest event in WPC competition, Turner will drop like a pin from 14,000 feet in the air, while actively manoeuvring his body into a streamlined missile to go as fast as he can back towards earth.
According to Turner, those speeds can reach up to 500km/h.
"To maximise your speed you put your head down, pin it and fly,” said Turner, a former Kingscliff High School student.
"After you hit 400 km/h the air barrier that surrounds you separates; your head is breaking the air and the rest of your body is turbulence, and you're riding that turbulent air.
"It's all about riding that knife edge of instability. If you wobble, you lose it.”
When asked if he is making this otherworldly plunge sound simpler than it actually is, Turner fastens himself even tighter back to basics.
"You just have to relax and breath out,” he said.
"Once you get the wobbles you don't want to fight it, you just have to ride it.”
"It's heaps of fun.”
With the sky now his fun-house, Turner says that jumping out of a plane - his first jump was a gift from a group of mates for his 30th - has changed his life.
"The freedom, the living in the moment, the joy of flying at amazing speeds, doing it next to your mates, holding onto each other at 300 km/h - I've never looked back,” Turner said.
The WPC will be held in Runaway Bay from October 6-13. The event has a fluid schedule with event times, from Formation Skydiving, Canopy Formation, Artistic and Turner's Speed Skydiving, to be determined throughout the week.