NDP 2018: Red Lions to jump from record 3,800m height and 'fly' in wing suits

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For the first time in parade history, the Singapore Army's Red Lions will be donning bright-red wing suits and will be making the display jump from a greater height of 3,800m. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - They have wowed the crowds with their free-falling prowess at previous National Day Parades (NDPs).

This year, the Singapore Army's Red Lions will not be just free falling, they will be "flying" too.

For the first time in parade history, the 10-member team will be donning bright-red wing suits and will be making the display jump from a record height of 3,800m, the highest ever for an NDP.

In another first, they will also be joined by the Republic of Singapore Navy's naval combat divers, who will be executing a free-fall water-jump display in full operational gear into the waters around the Marina Bay floating platform, where the Aug 9 parade will be held.

The surface area of the wing suits will allow the jumpers to "fly" and use their body positions to navigate. The suits, which are made of parachute material with air pockets, are tailor-made for each Red Lion.

The team will jump from above Sentosa and glide at speeds of up to 200kmh towards the floating platform, before deploying their parachutes and landing in front of the audience.

Red Lion, Major Arnold Low , 42, said one of the challenges of wearing the wing suit is keeping the arms and legs extended to maintain a rigid "wing" that will allow the Lions to navigate the skies.

The higher-altitude jump will also give the Red Lions one minute of free fall, compared with 30 seconds for normal free-fall jumps in previous NDP displays.

Red Lions team leader, First Warrant Officer (1WO) Ivan Low, 44, said the team started preparing for the parade in February.

His job is to navigate the jump process and act as a point of reference for the others as the team forms a diamond shape in the sky after jumping from the Republic of Singapore Air Force's C-130 transport aircraft.

"I'll also work closely with the pilot to determine if weather conditions will allow us to go ahead with the standard profile jump, or if we have to use our contingencies," he added.

1WO Low has done 1,400 jumps in his career and will be taking part in his sixth NDP.

"There's definitely anxiety before every jump, but we have learnt to focus on the job rather than on the distractions," he said.

"Every jump is different. We take each one seriously and never take safety for granted."

Maj Low plays a key role as the team's cameraman during the jump. He will wear a helmet mounted with cameras. He triggers the camera shutter by biting on a mouthpiece. .

This will be Maj Low's fifth time jumping at the NDP. The hobby photographer has 1,100 jumps under his belt.

He said: "The adrenaline rush and the sense of satisfaction when you successfully complete a jump never get old. The display jump also requires team effort and everyone plays a part."

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