of the Above the Poconos Skydivers, holds the Guinness World Record for Career Total: Most Parachute Descents.
Making him the Most Experienced Skydiver in the World!
Don Kellner is a Air Force veteran, but despite over three thousand hours (wheels up) spent in military aircraft, he never made a jump while in the military. In June of 1961, he made his first jump and hasn't stopped since!
When he returned from the service, he began a career in big construction and spent his weekdays building power plants, pumping stations, prisons and high schools. Weekends and after work were devoted to skydiving. In 1967, he was part of the construction crew that built the set for "The Molly Maguires" in Eckley's Miner's Village. That is where he met Kevin Donnelly, assistant director for the movie and avid skydiver. They celebrated their 1000th jump together over the skies of Hazleton. You can still go visit Eckley and see the set. Don made 1936 jumps on round parachutes, modern square parachutes had not been invented yet. He was, and continues to be, a pioneer in the sport. Testing the predecessors to the ram-air parachutes of today.
He has always been on the forefront of skydiving instruction, developing and testing IAD training as a safer method of training compared to the original static-line method. When tandem skydiving was developed in 1984, he made sure that Above the Poconos Skydivers was one of the first skydiving centers to implement this innovative approach to skydiving instruction.
In December of 1985, he made his 10,000 freefall skydive making him the most experienced skydiver in the United States.
In May of 1990, he made his 13,000th skydive out of a B-24 Liberator and in July of that same year, he got married in a freefall ceremony to his wife Darlene. Also an active skydiving instructor and pilot, Darlene holds the highest instructional rating, Instructor/Examiner, in every method of skydiving instruction available.
In June of 1991, Don made his 15,000th skydive placing him in the Guinness Book of World Records. For the dynamic visual effect, he elicited the help of expert Balloon Pilot, Stan Hess and the US Hot Air Balloon Team. Darlene exited the balloon first, helmet cam rolling and got this cover shot for the kid's version of Guinness, called Guinness Record Breakers.
Throughout the 90's and into the new century he has maintained his skydiving world record. Each skydive that Don Kellner makes is a new world record.
However, they are only submitted to Guinness when he achieves the next thousand and only after he receives verification from the US Parachute Association.
Don has continually made sure that the Above the Poconos Skydivers training programs are the best available. In an era of bigger is better approach, he and his partner, chief pilot Dave Price, have made a conscientious business decision to keep the dropzone small, safe, and personable.
Don has personally taken well over 10,000 first time skydivers on tandem skydives, jumpmastered thousands of advanced student skydivers, and performed countless demonstration skydives. On December 18, 2005 Don and his wife, Darlene, celebrated making a combined total of 50,000 skydives with a kiss pass over the snow covered landscapes of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Don Kellner made his 45000th skydive in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first intentional freefall sport parachute jump. Don is both an amazing skydiver and an amazing man. The fact that he was able to attain and maintain a skydiving world record on weekends and after work demonstrate his passion for the sport.
On May 1, 2021 Don made several skydives putting his total at 46,355 jumps despite incredible sciatic and femoral nerve pain caused by cancer. He left this world on July 22, 2021 and is no longer in pain and will forever fly in the sky with all that loved him. (Photo by Leatha Monkoski)
Page updated on July 25, 2021