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Flying into the record books: 71 daredevil skydivers get into formation above Cali!


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Flying into the record books: 71 daredevil skydivers get into formation above California


By Mail Foreign Service

Last updated at 12:09 PM on 14th November 2008



Soaring through the air like a stealth bomber this spectacular wing suit formation skydive is a world first.

Travelling at speeds of up to 100 mph these 71 flying daredevils set a new world record for the largest slot specific wing-suit formation ever constructed.


Situated 14,500 ft above Lake Elsinore, California, these extreme divers set the new record on Wednesday.



Enlarge article-1085709-0274D9B5000005DC-864_634x423.jpg World record: The 71 skydivers travelling at forward speeds of 100 mph and vertical speeds of 68 mph at 14,000 ft above California


For organiser and wing captain Justin Shorb it has been a culmination of one year's recruitment, planning and stress.


'This is a completely new record,' said the 27-year-old from Boston.

'The only other slot specific wing-suit formation was a 16-way diamond formation in August so this really is the largest ever.


'It looks amazing and its a really good feeling to achieve this.'


Held at Lake Elisinore drop site the record breaking team spent five days practising and mastering their exit and formations before setting the record.

Jumping over 30 times from Monday to Wednesday the team had to work in precise military fashion to achieve their goal.

'All 71 sky divers were separated in four aircraft, named A, B, C and D,' explains 27-year-old Justin.

'We had them lined up one in front of the other at 14,500 ft.


Enlarge article-1085709-0274DE10000005DC-992_634x423.jpg Is it a bird? Wing-suiting is a variation on skydiving where people wear special 'bird suits' with wings that help them fall to the ground


'At that height every plane opened its door at the same time and we would all climb out and hold onto the side of the plane ready to jump.


'As soon as the jumpers in the second plane (who would form the base of the formation) jumped, everybody followed.

'From the first person to the last person to exit the plane was roughly seven seconds.


Exiting the plane in just a few seconds the skydivers had little time to move into their four quadrant formation.


'We had four quadrants to the V-formation which made it look like a stealth bomber,' explained Justin.

'Those divers in the first plane made up the right wing of the formation.


'The second and third planes formed the chevron base of the nose.

'The third plane formed a diamond that plugged into the middle of the chevron and the fourth plane made up the left wing.'


Moving at forward speeds of 100 mph and vertical speeds of 68 mph, the divers positioned themselves within three metre boxes from each other in vertical and horizontal lines.



Enlarge article-1085709-0274D9C0000005DC-493_634x423.jpg Spectacular: The skydivers fall to earth in formation

Travelling nearly three miles in a few minutes organisation was paramount to the safety and success of the jump.

Aerial photographer Norman Kent managed to capture these spectacular images as he soared along side the daredevils.

'With something like this I have to be very aware of my position because I don't want to have any bearing on the formation,' said the 54-year-old who wore a specially designed camera imbedded into his helmet.

'Therefore I have to work on instinct to get the shot that I need. When I saw the formation together I saw a perfect opportunity to get a beautiful shot and I raced ahead of them and look back underneath my body.

'The formation was in perfect sync and I managed to get a few great shots.'


For Justin though, the tough journey of world wide recruitment and planning was worth the reward.

He said: 'We have been having qualifier camps all over the United States and Europe. We have people at this event from 6 continents including jumpers from UK, South Africa, Europe.


'This was time consuming but these last five days have been very intense.

'I was responsible for the left wing of the formation and we had issues getting guys up to speed.'


'I put my team through hell to get this to work and the other parts of the formation were building a lot better than we were and it was bringing down morale and people were getting tired.


'To see their faces and to hear their screams and cheers when we announced that we did it, it was the most amazing accomplishment I have ever felt. 'It was awesome.'

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