SINGAPORE - For the first time, three women Red Lions parachutists will perform free fall jumps as part of the National Day Parade (NDP) celebrations this year.
First-timers Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Wong and 3WO Sandy Wong will make heartland jumps at Bishan and Ghim Moh on Aug 7, as part of a team of seven parachutists at each site.
Second Warrant Officer (2WO) Shirley Ng, who is taking part in her fourth NDP, will be landing at The Float @ Marina Bay on Aug 9 in the crowd favourite segment, as the ninth of 10 jumpers.
The NDP will be the first full-scale parade since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a capacity crowd of about 25,000 people expected on Aug 9.
Speaking to the media at Pasir Ris Camp on Saturday (July 30), 3WO Sandy Wong said she and her colleagues felt honoured to be part of this year's National Day celebrations.
"The Red Lions jump is one of Singaporeans' favourite segments, and together we hope to bring cheers and best wishes for Singapore," she said.
All three women declined to reveal their ages.
3WO Shirley Wong said she joined the parachuting team to overcome her fear of heights.
"Initially it was difficult, because I would feel anxious. But after making more jumps, I started to focus more on the training and execution and applied the skills learnt, slowly overcoming my fear."
The three women are also parachute riggers in the commando formation.
At the jump rehearsal in Ghim Moh last Thursday (July 28), team lead Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Chong Boon Heng, 46, told the media: "By bringing the Red Lions to the heartland, it brings us closer to fellow Singaporeans and allows us to celebrate together."
While this year will mark MWO Chong's sixth Red Lions appearance for the NDP, it will be 2WO Ee Kian Yong's first.
2WO Ee, 44, said some of the tips from his team members helped him train his mindset and focus on the accuracy of landing.
He said one of the biggest challenges has been the wind, which is never constant, so the team has had to make changes during training to cope with different scenarios on the actual day.
3WO Sandy Wong's family friend was among the 30 or so passers-by and residents who watched last Thursday's jump rehearsal in Ghim Moh.
Ms Jessica Lee, 40, who showed up with 3WO Wong's parents to show support, said this was her first time watching such an event in person. The Hong Kong resident, who is here on a visit, said it felt even more special to watch her friend taking part.
The Red Lions' performances on Aug 7 will take place at the field beside the Bishan MRT station from 8.40am to 9.30am, and in Ghim Moh from 9.10am to 10am. Tickets are not needed to catch the show.