On May 1, Don Kellner, D-572 and the Guinness World Record Holder for Most Lifetime Skydives, made eight skydives at Above the Poconos Skydivers in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, the drop zone he owned with his wife, Darlene. They were the last jumps he was to make before his death from cancer on July 22 at age 85. In recognition of those final jumps—which put his total number of skydives at 46,355—USPA posthumously awarded him the U.S. Record for Most Lifetime Skydives on July 28. The fact of the matter is, though, that every jump Kellner made for decades was a record-setter.
In December 1985, Kellner made his 10,000th freefall skydive, making him the most experienced skydiver in the United States. In 1991, after his 15,000th jump, he received his first Guinness World Record. Since then, he’s held that record, updating it every thousandth jump after verification by USPA. USPA issued him 46,000-Jump Wings #1 on January 28, 2021.
Kellner’s jumps weren’t solely hop-and-pops, either. He had a true passion for the sport and loved to share it with others. He was a pioneer within the instructional field, always working to improve techniques and make the sport safer. Over the course of his career, he held tandem examiner and tandem, AFF, static-line and IAD instructor ratings, and took more than 10,000 people on their first skydives.
Kellner’s family will hold a celebration of life on August 7 at 6 p.m. at the annual Skydiver's Corn Roast at the Double D Skyranch Airport in Drums, Pennsylvania. All who knew him are welcome to attend and are invited to camp there overnight. Memorial donations may be made to the Double D Skyranch Runway Improvement Fund.