Monday, July 28, 2008

New world skydiving record

The Daily Mail has published an article, with some amazing pictures, about a new world sky-diving record. (Click the pictures for a larger view.)

For a few precious seconds these 100 skydivers linked up, thousands of feet above Florida.

It was all the time they needed to break the world record for the largest number to gather in a single formation.

One slip and their huge diamond of pinks and greens would have collapsed, sending them crashing into one another and plummeting from the sky.

Roughly the size of a 747 jet, the successful formation broke the previous record of an 85-way canopy formation set in 2005.

A canopy formation, one of the most difficult manoeuvres for parachutists, is built by parachutists flying their parachutes in proximity to each other and then taking grips ("docking") on other jumpers' parachutes.

The practice of building such formations is known by several names; canopy formations (CF), canopy formation skydiving (CFS) or canopy relative work( CRW or CReW).

The 100 jumpers were able to join together on a second of two attempts, using their hands and feet to hook up to adjacent parachutes.

The skydivers exited five planes flying at staggered altitudes to execute the formation.

The stunt took seven years of planning and training. Each skydiver had to learn how to link up with his lower neighbours by locking his feet into their lines and grabbing their canopies with his arms extended behind him.

Brian Pangburn, a participant and one of the organisers of the record jump, explained the technical complexities behind the record.

'The canopy formation is probably only done by about five per cent of skydivers in the world,' explained the 43-year-old.

'The planning for this was very precise.

'We had five planes, three Otters and two CASAs, which carried the jumpers.

'The way you build it is that the gut on top starts and then he grabs the guy coming from underneath and so on. So we actually built it from the top going down.

'The first plane, which was at 21,000 ft carried the first nine jumpers. They pulled their cords immediately after exiting the plane to get into position.

'Exactly two minutes later we had another plane empty out the next 25 jumpers and two videographers from 18, 000 ft.

'Two minutes after that at 15,000 ft we had another aircraft with another 25 jumpers.

'And then at 12, 000 ft we had the last two planes carrying 20 and 21 jumpers.

'It took us 11 minutes from the moment the first jumpers exited to when everyone hit the ground so we didn't have much time.

'We also knew we had to break apart at no lower than 4,000 ft so that everyone to land safely on the ground.

'It was close but we got the record just at the last moment.'

There's a lot more information in the linked article, and a video clip of the accomplishment on YouTube:

Congratulations to all concerned! Even though I see no need to jump out of a perfectly good aircraft, it's clear that this took amazing skill and a whole lot of hard work. Well done!


1 comment:

phlegmfatale said...

wow- that was super-cool!