Congratulations to all of the skydivers who came out and set the new Two Point Vertical Sequential World Record on September 18th! Seventy seven inside flyers and three videographers/photographers came to Skydive Chicago to begin jumping on Thursday September 16th with hopes to complete the record following the new sequential rules. The event was led with great success by Matt Fry and Andy Malchiodi.
On Thursday the group started with four jumps from 16,000’, focusing on the timing and sight picture for the first point. This included some no-grip warm up dives, and slight adjustments in formation, but overall set the foundation for the rest of the weekend. When trying for a record the first day is also critical in terms of setting the formation fall rate as well as just giving everyone a chance to shake out the nerves and excitement for jumps yet to come.
Because the skydivers were jumping from over 15,000 feet, they are also required to breath oxygen in the plane on the ride to altitude so as not to become hypoxic before they get out. Each plane is outfitted with an oxygen tank used by everyone in the plane, including the pilot, with a system of hoses attached and run down both sides of the plane. Each person gets their own personal cannula that sits in their nose or mouth while they breathe normally until it is time to exit the aircraft when they leave the hoses in the plane. The Thursday warm up jumps were also the perfect opportunity to get everyone used to using the oxygen system.
On Friday the team did jumps from 19,000 feet and were working on both points one and two with grips in official record attempts. The first jump of the day was wildly successful with only one grip missing from the first point. The group quickly moved on to and completed the second point at a predetermined altitude, displaying that not only was this a good dive plan, but also that this group was the best group to do it.
After three more jumps, however, the group still did not have a record. They went up for jump number five of the day, with just enough time to get a sixth in before sunset if needed. About ten minutes after the planes took off the upper winds picked up, clouds began to build, and the sky was rapidly becoming covered with a sheet of white and grey. By the time the planes got to their intended altitude the north side of the landing area was covered with clouds, leaving the south side potentially open for landings. After a few anxious minutes of looking out the door, the group and dropzone decided not to go due to the rapidly shifting conditions, the size of the group, and the lower number of available outs south of the dropzone. The participants had to ride the planes down. Instead of chasing holes between clouds for the last jump of the day, everyone was released early for dinner and rest for fresh jumps starting on Saturday.
First jump of the day on Saturday everyone arrived well rested, laid back, and ready to go. The planes took off at 8:30am and everyone knew what to do. But could they actually do it? “Green light. Green light. Greeeeeen light.” Josh called over the AV system thirty minutes later. Everyone around went outside to look up and watch the group break apart and land their canopies. There were many smiles and good feelings, but no overt celebrations in the landing area, as it is hard for anyone in for the formation to see the entire thing. The load organizers and videographers went to the auditorium and closed the doors. Meanwhile all of the jumpers outside were packing their parachutes and watching their own videos to check for any missed grips.
After what seemed like forever, the auditorium doors were opened and everyone was asked to come inside for a debrief. As an officially submitted attempt, Judge Randy Connell got up in front of the jumpers and judged the video… to BE A NEW WORLD RECORD! The auditorium erupted with cheers, hugs, and clapping.
One of the unique things about this world record is that the same group that started is the same group that finished. There was no bench and no one was cut, making this an extra special team that worked it out together. Usually on a record there is a group of people on the bench. A group of “second string” candidates that have the skills to be on the jump, but did not receive a primary invite. If anyone from the original group gets cut due to performance mistakes or other reasons to increase the chance of record success, then people from the bench are usually rotated into the formation. For this record there was no bench and there were no cuts and everyone crushed it.
If you have never watched a bigway group or a record attempt- you should. The energy and anticipation is high for the group. As a spectator, you can also see and hear these large formations from the ground: first, the growing rumble from freefall as the formation of bodies gets closer to the ground, then the crackle of the canopies as they begin to pop open. As a participant, they are exhausting and intense with long and cold rides to altitude, challenging skydives, busy landings, and then extended waits for good news or bad. Bigways are the ultimate team sport because if one person misses one grip, they all miss it.
Congratulations to everyone involved!
The record was judged by Randy Connell, Gorka Amian, and Jim Rees.
Two Point Vertical Sequential World Record Holders:
Javier Rojas Astorga
Kaan Burcin Ozenmis
Mike Di Lisi