Tributes flow for skydiver

HE'D jumped out of planes hundreds of times before.

There would have been few pre-jump jitters as the plane approached an altitude of 3500 feet over the Lockyer Valley where he would jump.

But the flight from Ripcord Skydivers in Crowley Vale, near Gatton, would end in tragedy.

The parachute and back-up chute of the 66-year-old Phil Whatmore both failed to open.

He crashed to the ground, dying on impact.

Paramedics were rushed to attend to the man, who reportedly lived in nearby Plainland. However, he was declared dead on the scene.

Mr Whatmore was a very experienced diver, having dived more than 1000 times and competing in World Championships in the 1970s.

However, this was not the first time he'd courted death. He hit powerlines on a dive near Beaudesert in his prime.

His primary chute malfunctioned and he was forced to use his less-manoeuvrable back-up chute, and hit powerlines.

Then his life was saved by current Ripcord Skydivers owner John Friswell, who performed mouth-to-mouth. However, Mr Whatmore suffered severe burns to his legs and had to walk with walking sticks.

The cause of failure of the two chutes on Sunday remains unknown, with the coroner investigating the incident and the Australia Parachuters Federation (APF) stating it will spend weeks examining the fatal incident.

Tributes to Mr Whatmore flowed in today from people who had dived with him. APF founder Claude Gillard described Mr Whatmore as a "champion", while fellow veteran skydiver David McEvoy said he was an "exceptional" diver.

Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said investigations into Mr Whatmore's death were ongoing.



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