Freefly world record
They've done it!! A new freefly world record was set on 31 July 2009 in only 6 jumps at Skydive Chicago. 108 freeflyers, all in their slots.
The previous record set in 2007 was a 69way.
South African Timothy Hutchings (a.k.a. Tim-O-T) is one of only a handful of South African skydivers to have topped 10000 skydives. Tim was part of the action in Chicago and sent this report of his experience:
By Tim Hutchings D727
Got there Tuesday night late. Wednesday was try-outs (for those of us not invited). There were around sixty of us amping to get on! We did a couple of forty-something ways and then a couple of twenty-something ways. The organisers rated us (in secret!). Thursday they started with the "top" eighty-five invitees. They did four or so jumps, never quite completing it but really close. Last load on Thursday was going to be the first shot at the 108-way. I was invited on thanx to my performance on the try-outs and to my friends on the attempt (Lodi crew) talking me up to the organisers. We didn't jump on Thursday due to weather, but planned for an early-ish start on Friday.
1st load on Friday we got 101 out of 108! I stuck my slot! Had a moment shortly after exit (17500ft with O2 provided from 12000ft. This allowed for a 30second skydive. Break off began at 7500ft) where I looked around and went: "WOW! That is a lot of bodies!" 2nd round (after some changes) went even better: 106 of 108!!! Again, I stuck it! I found the actual skydiving wasn't hard, and it was a lot safer than I thought it would be.
Round three: we were all very confident of completing the formation. I left the plane, raced to the formation and couldn't find my slot!!??!! I then went to plan b and split the streamers (because I knew that’s where my slot was) only to find I was on the wrong side (180 degrees out!!) I started to move around, but we were out of time before I made it in. I went straight to Mike Swanson and apologised and thanked him for giving me a shot at it.
Jumps four and five went about the same - each one missing a few bodies. Each time they made some cuts (there were 47 people on the bench after tryouts!) and tried again! Some of the biggest names got cut - there was no leniency! The slightest mistake and one was off. Jump six was the one: everyone in except some guy that did just about what I did, only he managed to carve around and get into his slot! The four people waiting for him were on him in less than a second and less than a second later break off started! The rules have been changed so a formation does not have to be held for any length of time! All that's needed is a shot! And they got it!
Big celebration! Awesome facility! Awesome pilots! I'll be back for the next record!!!