FLYING HIGH: Erica Tadokoro, 44, was the oldest of 49 participants in the attempt to break the national record for Australian vertical formation skydiving.
FLYING HIGH: Erica Tadokoro, 44, was the oldest of 49 participants in the attempt to break the national record for Australian vertical formation skydiving. Sarah Harvey

High hopes for success in this numbers game

AFTER losing her husband in a skydiving accident, you might have thought Erica Tadokoro would have hung up her parachute for good.

Instead, the 44-year-old has done the opposite.

The Northlakes flight attendant was among the adrenaline junkies who attempted to break the national record for a 49-way Australian vertical formation skydive at Toogoolawah.

It requires 49 divers to build formations in free-fall, with multiple people gripping each other's limbs while using high-speed body positions.

As the oldest participant, Ms Tadokoro said she loved the challenge of formation skydiving as well as working as a team.

After her husband Josh Vanderstelt died in 2005, Ms Tadokoro said she took a break from skydiving and wasn't sure if she'd parachute again.

Amy Chmelecki gives a briefing to the 49 skydivers.
Amy Chmelecki gives a briefing to the 49 skydivers.

"But my friends said Josh wouldn't have wanted me to stop doing something I loved," she said.

"He'd probably come back and haunt me if I gave up."

Since then Ms Tadokoro has been regularly involved in these record-breaking attempts.

With about 45,000 jumps between them all, the group had high expectations of breaking the record.

Organiser of the stunt, Amy Chmelecki, has been involved in more than 14,000 jumps alone and has taken part in these finely tuned attempts since 2002.

Unfortunately the latest attempt, which took place last week, was completed as an "unofficial" record of 37.

The current national record in vertical formation skydiving stands at 33 skydivers.



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