NDP 2019: Practice makes perfect for Red Lions' 3,048m free-fall

A member of the Red Lions team whizzes through the air amid cheers from the crowd at the Padang, leaving a trail of red in the sky.
A member of the Red Lions team whizzes through the air amid cheers from the crowd at the Padang, leaving a trail of red in the sky.
President Halimah Yacob, who was at her second National Day Parade as President, meeting parade participants and performers at the Padang before taking her leave.
President Halimah Yacob, who was at her second National Day Parade as President, meeting parade participants and performers at the Padang before taking her leave.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat waving a Singapore flag to the crowd as he arrives at the parade. Yesterday's parade was his first as DPM. He heads the 4G leadership team.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat waving a Singapore flag to the crowd as he arrives at the parade. Yesterday's parade was his first as DPM. He heads the 4G leadership team.

Free-falling 3,048m in the air is already no easy feat.

But for the Red Lions, the Singapore Army's parachutists and a crowd favourite at every National Day Parade, the difficulty is compounded every time they perform at the Padang.

Surrounding the space are trees, high-rise buildings and tall floodlights around the performance grounds. The nearby St Andrew's Cathedral is less than 100m away when they are in the air.

Buffeted by the winds coming at them from many directions, the Red Lions must always make judgment calls to decide how they should steer themselves and use the winds to their advantage, said the Red Lions team leader, First Warrant Officer (1WO) Melvin Ho.

The good news is that every Red Lion is a seasoned parachutist and has reached a stage where "the feel and assessment (of the jump) is much like driving", said Lieutenant-Colonel Arnold Low, one of the team members.

Every Red Lion is a seasoned parachutist and has reached a stage where "the feel and assessment (of the jump) is much like driving", said Lieutenant-Colonel Arnold Low.

And, like every sport, all it takes is practice to execute the perfect landing, added 1WO Ho.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2019, with the headline 'Practice makes perfect for Red Lions' 3,048m free-fall'. Print Edition | Subscribe