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Pile of parachutists drop in

Last updated 11:43 01/11/2012
JUMP
ROB PINE

BIG DISPLAY: Parachutists woo the crowds with a five-stack formation above Kumeu Showgrounds.

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Skydivers dazzled the crowd with a flawless jump into Kumeu Showgrounds at the Taupaki Primary School fireworks display.

Perfect weather conditions aided the display held under the umbrella of Blue Skies Skydiving in Parakai.

This marks the 13th year parachutists have awed visitors at the school's annual fireworks display and gala.

Squadron Leader Severn Smith, Paree Del La Varis, Dene Richardson of Kaukapakapa and Tony Chilcott of South Auckland dived into the showgrounds in stack formation about 7.45 pm.

Mr Smith of Whenuapai airbase took the place this year of parachutist Graeme Bull of Whenuapai. Mr Bull crash-landed in Eden Park in March when a jump went wrong and he broke his femur bone in front of horrified spectators. He is recovering well and will hopefully rejoin the display next year, says fellow team member Ms Del La Varis of Taupaki.

Mr Severn is an experienced skydiver who boasts many international medals.

He is also an instructor at Blue Skies Skydiving.

Ms Del La Varis has organised the skydiving display since 1999 and has seen her fair share of excitement.

In 2006 the Auckland Skydivers Inc Cessna 206 crashed in the Kumeu River Wines Chardonnay vineyard during a practice run the morning of the display.

Skydivers scrambled to deploy their chutes and landed safely at the Huapai Tavern.

The aircraft had climbed to 3000 feet when the engine failed so it was high enough for those on board to jump.

"I was then faced with a busy few hours trying to organise another aircraft for the display," Ms Del La Varis says.

After jumping from dizzying heights on Friday, team members relaxed and watched the fireworks.

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- Norwest News

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