Sky-high healing

Andra Whipple dangles thousands of feet above the ground. PICTURE: PEDRO PIMENTEL VISUALS

Dangling thousands of feet above the ground, Andra Whipple can picture the “contagious smile” of her late boyfriend, Ben Letham.

The Queenstowner’s daring aerial performances while hanging on ‘looped silks’ from a paraglider over Coronet Peak have already been viewed by thousands of people online.

The project, three years in the making, was the brainchild of Whipple and Letham.

Sadly, Letham died in a paragliding incident at Queenstown Primary School last year.

In his recently-released find-ings, Coroner David Robinson says Letham died from multiple massive traumatic injuries on April 22 after having insufficient momentum to complete an eighth “infinity loop” before landing.

Whipple says after Letham’s death, the project became “an obsession”.

“Before Ben, I didn’t really believe in myself the same way.

“It became a point of hope at a time I was really, really lost.”

She’s been up three times, performing aerial moves while friend Georges Millet climbs down the looped silks, eventually dangling from Whipple’s hands before performing a base jump.

“There’s a huge element of trust involved,” Whipple, who uses a safety harness, says.

The pair, along with photographer and videographer Pedro Pimentel, are hoping to link up with some sponsors for a bigger project, involving heli-copters.

She says Letham would be “stoked” by what she’s achieved.

“I was picturing him after I’d done it, I could see his contagious smile.”

While Letham’s incident does play on her mind – “I think if it didn’t, there’s something different about you” – she says she loves what she’s doing.

“No matter how many precautions you take, things can still happen.

“I think we’re all searching for those places where we can just be in the present.

“That’s what I chase.”