Anna Cochrane to attempt record breaking trapeze act suspended from a hot air balloon
By DEBBIE JAMIESON
Anna Cochrane said the project had been in the back of her mind for years.
"Having it in the Guinness Book of Records has created a clear goal but I would probably do it anyway. I need to do this."
The 31-year-old is finishing paramedic training at the end of this year and hopes to work fulltime as ambulance crew but in her past she has worked for skydiving companies, been a sports skydiver and trained in circus aerial performance.
The idea of combining her favourite activities seemed obvious and last year she performed on an aerial hoop while dangling from a hang-glider above Queenstown.
She believes it was a world first but there was no category to cover the attempt within Guinness World Records.
"After that we sat around and had a beer and thought it would be fun to come up something more official."
Research showed there was already a world record set for the highest static trapeze act performed 662m high by American woman Amanda Vicharelli assisted by Queenstown daredevil Chuck Berry and German Johannes 'Jojo' Rose in China in 2008. The act lasted for 10 minutes.
In order to surpass it Cochrane is aiming to perform at 1524m (5000 feet) harnessed from a hot air balloon for at least five minutes.
"It's quite a long time to stay on a piece of equipment like that," she says.
And at the conclusion she plans to skydive back to earth.
"To me it makes sense. If you're going to get that high, you might as well jump."
The event is scheduled for early February, possibly above Ashburton as Lake Wakatipu's surrounds are considered too mountainous to be safe.
While she has studied circus aerial performance the trapeze is new to her and she has already spent about six months training.
She has developed a five-minute routine and is working to perform it at least three times consecutively, to allow for the additional challenge of performing at altitude. The trick is ensuring the right balance of strength and flexibility.
Interestingly, while she is happy to perform 1500m in the air, she is not so keen on having an audience.
"I get stage fright too much. That's why I've created my own little sideline or branch of circus aerials - by making things up, like this gig."
"I love the feeling of floating, of flying and being upside down. I like getting up really high but I get scared of people watching!"
The risks, she believes, are manageable - such as ensuring she is properly attached to the balloon and strong enough for the task.
To be assessed by the Guiness World Record team she will submit a complete video of her performance which will be filmed from a second balloon and complimented by her own Go-Pro filming.
It had become a massive project, she said.
"When you [journalist] called I though 'O shit. This is real. I can't pull out now'."
She is also using the opportunity to raise money for the charity Big Brothers Big Sisters NZ, which links vulnerable young people with trained mentors.
The organisation is trying to expand as it has hundreds of children on its waiting list.
"I do feel that if you've created a platform to have a chance to speak out for something - where people watch out for what you're doing - then you should be promoting something that is good. I'm not keen on this being all about me."