Largest Diamond formation-world record set
by 100 skydivers
[Nov 23]LAKE WALES, Fla. --One hundred skydivers linked together
in the sky to form a diamond shape with their parachutes and set
a new world record for the largest Diamond formation.
Photo:PETE STOECK | BAY NEWS 9
"I feel great," said Mike Lewis of Lakeland, who was
one of the organizers of the record attempt. Lewis, 53, was the
jumper in position 100, completing the diamond as he locked in at
the bottom of the formation. "It's been a long road," Lewis said.
"We've spent seven years working on this."
He said the group came close on its first jump
before 9 a.m. Wednesday when 96 jumpers got into position. "We knew
we were close," he said. On the second jump of the day, shortly
before noon, all the skydivers managed to lock their feet into the
lines of parachutes below them and grab the canopies below them
with their hands.
The successful formation was confirmed by four judges
from the U.S. Parachute Association and broke a previous record
of an 85-way formation, according to The Ledger in Lakeland.
The 100 jumpers were able to join together on
a second of two attempts on Wednesday, using their hands and feet
to hook up to adjacent parachutes. The skydivers exited five planes
flying at staggered altitudes to execute the formation.
The resulting diamond was about 200-feet-by-200 feet
- roughly the size of a 747 jet. Lewis said a formation that large
would be visible on radar as far away as Miami. Jumpers exited five
planes, which were flying at staggered altitudes of up to 21,000
Lewis said the organizers set the goal of a 100-way
formation in 2000. At the time, the canopy formation record was
a 53-way, which was achieved in Germany in 1996.
Elation over the record was tempered by
the death Tuesday of an Arizona man, who was injured Saturday while
practicing for the record attempt.
A Gilbert sky diver died doing what he loved,
after his parachute became tangled during a jump.
Lewis said Joseph Lambright, 49, spiraled to the ground
after his foot became entangled in the cord of another parachute.
The other jumper, who released the chute Lambright was tangled in
and used his reserve parachute, was not injured.
Joseph Lambright, 49, of Gilbert, Ariz., was an
experienced skydiver with about 5,000 jumps, according to Betty
Hill, who manages the Florida Skydiving Center at the airport.
"Joe was a great skydiver and a great competitor,"
said Mike Lewis of Lakeland, one of the organizers of the attempt
to set the world record for a canopy formation. "I've known him
for 25 years. It's tough."
Lake Wales firefighter Mike Sykes said Lambright
"spiraled out of control" and hit the ground hard off Old Bartow
Road, across State Road 60 from the airport.
Sykes said Lambright was conscious when he was
airlifted to Lakeland Regional Medical Center with a ruptured aorta,
ruptured spleen, several fractured ribs and other injuries.
"We're on the edge," Lewis said of skydiving,
adding that "it's all a calculated risk." He said people could just
as easily be injured in their car going to work.
States Parachute Association reported 21 parachuting deaths
in 2006 and 27 in 2005. In 2005, the USPA said there were an estimated
2.2 million jumps made in the U.S.
On the Net:
U.S. Parachute Association: http://www.uspa.org/
Camopy formation world record
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