An Australian skydiving champion, age 29, was murdered in Texas while experimenting with a dangerous technique known as “swooping.”
Perth native and Skydive Spaceland Houston instructor Melissa Porter attempted the new feat on June 24 but had a rough landing and landed in shallow water.
During the “advanced landing,” her parachute was reportedly released, but she was already too close to the ground to land safely.
A local hospital confirmed Porter’s death.
She may have experienced a medical issue while diving. Investigators have found no signs of blunt force injuries. The Galveston County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the manner of death.
After seeing her grandmother jump, Porter developed a passion for the sport herself. At the age of 14, she did her first tandem jump.
Porter was one among 23 ladies that broke the Australian women’s total-break sequence record by jumping at Skydive Ramblers in Toogoolawah in May.
Swooping is a set of complex techniques in skydiving that allows a jumper to “swoop” at high speeds above the earth or water and then quickly level down for a landing.
To achieve a “swoop landing,” a skydiver undertakes a series of actions that enhance the speed of the parachute or canopy, allowing them to descend fast over the ground or water. To propel the canopy downwards, the jumper generates “a surge.”
In the two-way Inter Vertical Formation Skydiving category at the Australian, Skydiving Championships held at Hillman Farm Skydiving Club earlier this year, Porter and her skydiving partner Josh Tassicker took home the gold.
Porter lamented to the Sound Telegraph in March that men had historically controlled the sport.
On May 6th, Porter accomplished the “2-point 23 way,” a skydiving maneuver in which two or more skydivers link in flight before one breaks free into a “full break” and the others rejoin.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (DFAT) said, “We send our deepest condolences to the woman’s family.”