Big Picture

Lucky 13 for plucky skydivers

PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

It took an international team of 164 skydivers 13 attempts last Friday to build the largest-ever head-down skydiving formation.

Flying at speeds of up to 386kmh over rural Ottawa in central Illinois in the United States, they beat the previous record set in 2012 by 138 skydivers. The jumpers formed a structure resembling a flower before breaking away to deploy their parachutes, shouting in jubilation on their way to the ground.

"It is awesome, man," said Mr Rook Nelson, one of the organisers. "It just goes to show that if you can get the right group of people together, and the right support team and good conditions, anything is possible... even on attempt number 13."

Jumpers travelled from around the world to take part, including Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia and Finland.

Seven aircraft were flown in precise formation to ensure that the skydivers jumped at the right place, time and altitude. The jump took place at about 6,000m, with skydiving videographers recording the feat, their footage enabling judges on the ground to verify the record.

"When (record) jumps work well, it is like there is a certain peace to it all, a certain harmony to it all," said long-time skydiving videographer Norman Kent, who filmed the jump. "And it is contagious... you can feel it even from a distance as a cameraman."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'Lucky 13 for plucky skydivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe