Drums Skydiver Makes Record 45,000 Jumps
Donning a tooled leather rigging, long-time skydiver Don Kellner sailed into a new world record for his 45,000th jump as the sun set over the Hazleton Regional Airport Saturday evening.
“Just another jump,” the 82-year-old from Drums said on Monday. “It is a record — out of eight billion people to be on top of the whole pile. It’s just nice. Not many people can do it.”
No one will be shattering the record any time soon, as the closest person has only 30,000 jumps, he said.
Kellner, who owns Above the Poconos Skydivers based at the airport in Hazle Twp., said his record-breaking jump coincides with the 100th anniversary of the first parachute jump.
The leather rigging was on display at the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Texas recently and said that he’d love to wear that for his record-breaking jump, said his wife, Darlene, who is a licensed skydiving instructor. They contacted the manufacturer, who sent up a representative with the equipment, she said.
Don Kellner wanted to jump Friday, but the weather wouldn’t permit it, and then his team waited all day Saturday for the conditions to be right, she said. To hit the record this past weekend, Kellner needed 22 more jumps, which he accomplished the previous weekend, she said.
“He did 20 on Saturday and two on Sunday,” she said. “So, he’d only need one this weekend.”
Don Kellner took the 20 jumps in one day in stride, calling it a “steady, busy day.” He started jumping at 9 a.m. that day and continued until 6 p.m., he said.
They jump at anywhere between 3,000 and 10,000 feet, Don Kellner said. The difference, besides 7,000 feet, is that you fall longer, he said.
“Anything above 3,000 feet is safe,” he said.
A culture of safety is tantamount to skydiving and longevity in the sport, Darlene Kellner said. People come to northeastern Pennsylvania from all over the world to experience skydiving here, because of the safety and experience, she said.
“We get people into the area, into the restaurants and the hotels,” Darlene Kellner said.
She explained that every jump that her husband makes is world record, but the folks at the Guinness World Records only record in the thousands. The team documents all of Don Kellner’s jumps and then send them to the U.S. Parachute Association for verification, she said. They then go to Guinness, she said.
“This is a Guinness record that took a lifetime of dedication and perseverance,” said Darlene Kellner, who married her husband while skydiving in 1990.
Don Kellner has been jumping out of planes since June 14, 1961, and still vividly remembers his first jump. He said the feeling was indescribable. He has been skydiving since.
When asked if he plans to continue jumping, he said, “Absolutely.”
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