Second chance for first female Red Lion at National Day Parade

3WO Shirley Ng, seen here during her plunge at the NDP preview last Saturday, is ready to make history at the actual parade on Saturday.
3WO Shirley Ng, seen here during her plunge at the NDP preview last Saturday, is ready to make history at the actual parade on Saturday.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

She's back for NDP jump, after missing out due to poor weather last year

Cloudy  skies last year prevented Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng from becoming the first female Red Lion parachutist to jump at the National Day Parade (NDP).

But the tenacious 36-year-old is back and ready to make history at this year's parade on Saturday.

"Of course I'm very, very honoured to be given a second shot," said 3WO Ng, who will be the eighth out of nine Red Lions to make the leap. "But I already treated last year as my first NDP. We did six great jumps last year, including the rehearsals and preview."

A perennial crowd favourite, the Red Lions segment was called off last year due to poor weather.

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"My relatives and friends were still waiting. They thought the jump was postponed," recalled 3WO Ng. "It was indeed disappointing, but then again, what's over is over. We're really focusing on this year's NDP."

The army regular joined the Singapore Armed Forces in 1998 as a rigger, tasked with packing parachutes. A year later, she made her first jump from 305m above ground using the first parachute she packed.

This year, the same team has returned to make the 3,050m plunge, along with two new members. Having a bigger team meant that a lot more effort went into getting ready this time.

"Even though these two members have taken part in previous NDPs before, if you have any new people that join your team, you need a lot more rehearsals, more preparations," said 3WO Ng.

But the adrenaline rush more than makes up for the time put in, she said. "When you're coming down to land, you actually can hear the crowd cheering, people shouting your name, the emcee talking about you... it's great."

Asked if she worries that history might repeat itself, she laughed and said firmly: "I never! I don't think about things that are not within our control."

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg