What does it feel like to jump out of plane at 12,000 feet?

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That is the question that Leo Houlihan, Corowa resident was asked this week. Leo recently spent nine days in New Zealand on an adventure and did a tandem ski dive from 12,000 feet.

“It was amazing, such an adrenaline rush freefalling 6,500 feet in 60 seconds, before the parachute kicks in,” said Leo.

Leo didn’t stop there!

He swan-dived into a bungy jumped at 134 m at Nevis Bungy (the highest in NZ), falling for 8 seconds in a blitz of pure exhilaration before the bungee cord flung him back to reality. “I wasn’t afraid,” he said, “But, my legs did get a bit shaky as I walked out on the plank.”

He did a tandem paraglide across Queenstown. An unbelievable and very peaceful experience Leo reported.

You may have seen Leo walking along the paths in Corowa with his cane, high vis vest, and his support workers over the last few months, as he aimed to get fitter and lose some weight to enable him to fulfil this goal. Leo is vision impaired.

Leo said that the paragliding and ski diving operators were a bit worried about taking someone who is vision impaired, but after taking him were more than happy for Leo to come back anytime.

Leo said he would not have been able to do this adventure without the help of Karen Naylor and Julie Hayley who supported him in the lead up to the trip, and Nikki Jones who accompanied Leo on the trip and he wanted to say a special thank you.

On Saturday 3 December, we celebrate International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) and acknowledge the 4.4 million Australians with disability. Join the conversation this IDPwD to help raise awareness, challenge perceptions, and break down barriers. Together we can make our community more accessible, equitable, and inclusive for people with disability.

Next step, Leo is hoping to head to the USA to jump off a horse and wrangle a cow in Texas! “I don’t think I’ll practice,” said Leo. “Maybe just get to know the horse a bit.”

Leo is a valued member of Federation Council’s Disability Access and Inclusion Committee.

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Photo above: Leo in New Zealand

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