FIONA McEACHERN 22/04/1959 - 25/09/2010
Memorial Booklet - click here
Members of the Australian Parachute Federation are mourning the loss of one their friends and ambassadors, a true champion and an inspiration to all who met her. Fiona was involved in a fatal canopy collision at Tully on the 25th of September, whilst taking part in the FS 4-way event at the NQ State Championships.
Fiona made her first jump at Picton DZ in October 1984 and since then accumulated almost 7500 skydives, being a driving force in our community for over 26 years.
She has been an instructor in the sport for over 20 years, not only guiding beginners in their first steps in the sky, but as a coach/mentor to experienced skydivers in Australia and beyond.
As a team player, she competed in almost every Australian National Skydiving Championships
since 1988 – missing only 2004 due to an injury. She has represented Australia more than once including winning a silver medal in the women’s 4-person team event at the World Cup in Portugal in 1998, for which she received an APF Achievement Award.
Most recently, in June 2010 she was part of contingent of skydivers who set three new largest formation Australian records in one day, culminating in a group size of 112 skydivers linking up in the skies of California – smashing the previous Australian record set in 1999 of 81 skydivers.
In 2005 Fiona was part of the previous World record for the largest women’s formation at that time of 151.
Fiona has many hats in the sport of skydiving, taking on many volunteer roles at State, National and International levels. She was not only the Director of Competitions for the Australian Parachute Federation, but also the APF delegate with the International Parachuting Commission (IPC).
In her position with the IPC, she was honoured in 2002 with being elected to the position of Chair of the Formation Skydiving Committee – an international committee committed to setting competition rules in skydiving – and making them easy to understand.
Fiona has left a legacy of inspiration to all skydivers in Australia with her attitude of: “If I want to do good jumps with people then I have to help them get there. You can't just turn up and expect to have a great jump without helping each other.”
Fiona was the 'Mother Hen' of Australian skydiving. Every Australian skydiver owes her gratitude and respect for what she has done for the sport in this very large country.
“Southern Aurora” Silver medal, Women’s World Cup 4-way Formation Skydiving
Evora Portugal 1998
Australian Sports Medal 2000
APF Achievement Awards
1998: “Southern Aurora”, An outstanding performance at the Women's World Cup In Portugal 1998, where the team set a new Australian women's FS 4-way record of 16 points.
2006: Largest Australian Women’s Freefall Formation of 47 Skydivers at Toogoolawah, Queensland on 21st April 2005
2006: Largest World Women’s Record Freefall Formation of 151 Skydivers on 30th September 2005 at Perris Valley, California USA.
2010: Future Fifties Award, For her energetic and enthusiastic coaching, to bring out the best in skydivers, and her tireless efforts to build the APF’s competitor base and competition standard both locally and internationally.
EXCERPT FROM 2005 ASM PROFILE OF FIONA McEACHERN
Love by the name of John Cusack brought Fiona to Picton DZ some 20 years ago and ultimately skydiving. Observing what she considered a beautifully feminine looking sport filled with lots of colourful canopies Fiona launched into skydiving. Her presence in Australian skydiving both in the air and behind the scenes has been strong ever since.
Becoming one of the first students to go through and complete the AFF course, Fiona became the first AFF Instructor who graduated from the AFF program at Picton. With her husband just retiring from skydiving after 31 years in the sport and recovering herself from a knee injury prompted Fiona to reevaluate her own skydiving goals. Luckily, it took her one jump back to realise she is here for the long haul.
Excerpt from the profile of Fiona in the ASM from 2005, by Isabella Lipinski. CLICK HERE for the full profile.
Fiona McEachern, Chair Formation Skydiving Committee of the International Parachuting Commission
Fiona had been the IPC delegate for Australia since 2010 and the alternate delegate since 2000. Having been a FS Committee member since 2000 she has Chaired this Committee since 2002. For more on the role of the FS Committee and Fiona's role go to the IPC web site.
On Behalf of FAI
It was with great sadness that we learned about Fiona's tragic accident last Saturday
On behalf of the FAI President, the Executive Board and all the FAI Community, I would like to express our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to Fiona's family and friends, and in particular to Dr John Cusak her husband. Our thoughts are with them, as well as with the Australian Air Sports community who have lost one of its great supporter and contributor.
Even for those who did not have the chance to meet Fiona on a regular basis, we all have in mind her positive attitude, and we can appreciate why her friends and colleagues praise her warm and friendly personality. Fiona will be recognized in the World of Air Sports as a leading figure who achieved great things with both the Australian Parachute Federation and the FAI. We shall remember her with affection.
With our sincere and deep friendship. Stéphane DESPREZ. FAI Secretary General
I had the great pleasure of working with Fiona at a number of IPC competitions and also at IPC meetings over some years. I found her to be a wonderful lady, knowledgeable, calm, incisive and at the same time so willing to be helpful and advise, and all in a quiet unassuming way. I made two jumps with Fiona when I visited her dropzone, Sydney Skydivers, and I remember those two jumps with fondness. The shock of her untimely death leaves a void; one which will take a very long time to get over. Last weekend I made some jumps and in my mind I dedicated them to my departed colleague and friend. This Saturday, Irish weather permitting, I will jump, with a pink rose, and my pink rig, and bid a farewell to Fiona. It will not be a final farewell however, as she shall always be in my thoughts, whenever I jump and when I attend future IPC competitions and meetings. Good people are never forgotten. Liam McNulty - Technical Secretary IPC
There is a candle burning in SALZBURG - for Fiona and for all mourning for her, silent regards, Michael Egger, Chair, Para-Ski Committee, IPC
Such a tragic loss; Fiona was a lovely person and will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with John at this terrible time. Kind regards. John Hitchen. IPC Chair of Style and Accuracy
Fi, May your spirit live on in each person and place you’ve touched and visited, and there are many!!! Thank you for your advice and the good times shared these past years, Africa will miss you dearly!!!! Our condolences to Dr. John and all her family and friends. Jacqui Bruwer. IPC Delegate South Africa
I am very sorry to hear that sad and totally unexpected news. I remember Fiona since 2004 during preparation for WPC in Rijeka, Croatia, we had a very good communication and cooperation. Deepest sympathy to her family and friends. Goran Habschied ,Croatian Delegate to IPC
It really is sad news and had us heavy hearted. We would like to give our thoughts and encouragments to Fiona's family. Elsa Mai, Chinese Taipei Delegate to IPC
Es muy triste recibir esta noticia. Fiona fue una gran deportista y mejor dirigente. Es una gran pérdida, acompañamos en este profundo dolor a sus familiares, camaradas y a la APF, que pierde una muy valiosa representante. Con gran dolor. Gustavo Eduardo Reyes. Federación Argentina de Paracaidismo
On behalf of the Dutch Parachuting Federation, and the old and present IPC delegates we would like to express our sincere condolences to John, family, friends, australian skydivers and APF for the loss of Fiona McEachern. The world has lost an avid skydiver and kind person. We wish you all strength in these difficult times. Ronald Overdijk, Henny Wiggers, Igor van Aperen, Marc Hoornweg
To the APF. Our deepest condolences. Fiona will be missed for her dedicated support for the sport and all jumpers, her unforgettable smile and encouragement she gave to everyone she met. Our condolences go from the New Zealand Parachute Industry to her family to the APF, and to all the skydivers in the APF. We have lost a true champion of our sport. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance at all. Keith Gallaher CEO. New Zealand Parachute Industry Association
I am beyond words while tears are runing down my face. My thoughts are going to John, her family and the APF. I extend my deepest sympathy also in the name of the Swiss Federation. My heard is bleeding. Doris Merz-Hunziker, Swiss Delegate to IPC
Very sorry to hear this. Pal Bergan, Norwegian Delegate to IPC
This is beyond senseless, I'm totaly heartbroken. My thoughts goes to John, friends, family and Aussie Skydiving community. Words can not express the tremendous loss! Pia Berggren, Chair, Judges Committee, IPC
I have been informed by Mr. Desprez about the tragic accident of Fiona. I am very sad. I would like to ask you to pass all my condolences to her family. Cosette Mast, FAI Office
Gill has forwarded your e-mail to me. I am devastated - you make a lot of acquaintances in this sport and a few friends, and Fiona was one I was proud to consider a friend. It is a very sad day. From Susan Dixon, webmaster for IPC.
I can't believe it! Very, very bad news. My condolences to John, family and friends....Ronald Overdijk, Chair, Artistic Events Committee, IPC
I can not believe the words that I have just read! I can not express what my heart is feeling! The world has lost a wonderful woman! Marylou Laughlin, IPC Vice-President and USA Delegate.
There is nothing one can say. Too much - sad. Thomas Tuominen, Chair, Canopy Piloting Committee, IPC
I'm very sorry to hear this news. She will be greatly misses. Elisabet Pettersson, Judges and Technical & Safety Committees, IPC
I am absolutely devastated..... my most heartfelt feelings go out to John. Gill Winter
On behalf of Russian Federation of Parachuting we express our deepest condolonces to the family of Fiona and everyone who knew her. She was a very nice person, and this is a very bid loss to our Parachuting. Vladimir Gazetov, Russian Delegate to IPC
The tragic death of Fiona has hit hard, but I have some wonderful memories of her. Both Lena and I are thinking of you (john) at this difficult awful time and send our sincere condolences. Buzz Bennett, IPC Treasurer
Fiona was a lady and a jumper who touched so many lives within the skydiving and parachuting fraternity and will be so sadly missed by everyone who was fortunate to know her and as well those who did not have the opportunity to meet her. She was a legend in Australia and around the world and offered so much in her lifetime to the sport. On behalf of the ASIANIA Parachute Federation President Mubarak al Swailim, Executive Committee and all Asiania members please accept our most sincere condolences for Fiona ‘soul mate Dr John and to her family. Fiona will be always be so well respected and remembered in everyone hearts.
Most sincerely and respectfully,
Faye Cox (Asiania Secretary General and Australian delegate)
A Selection of Tributes.
So, so sad to hear about Fiona. What a terrific girl and a huge part of the skydiving community in Australia and across the globe. We will all miss her. Our hearts and love goes out to all our Aussie friends. Been thinking of all of you everyday and wishing you the best. Dan BC
All of us on the Golden Knights are shocked and saddened. Some of us knew you for years, and some just met you in Russia. We will all miss you and your smile. Eric Heinsheimer
"I felt so lucky and privileged to have met Fiona, and I realised immediately just how much she meant to skydivers. I share your shock and sadness." Jean Burns - Australia's first female skydiver.