This is the most extroadinary photograph and an amazing new US record. Our congratulations to Taya Weiss, 32, president of Raise the Sky, for helping to pull it off.
This is wingsuit formation flying at its very best.
68 skydivers from 16 different countries were flown up to 13,000ft in four otter planes before jumping out above the scenic Lake Elsinore, California.
Wearing a variety of brightly coloured wingsuits, the intrepid participants successfully achieved the unlinked, slot-specific formation required for the US record.
Weiss said, “The jump lasted for over a minute, with the whole formation travelling approximately two-and-a-half-miles across the ground.”
She added: “It is the standing US National Record for Largest Wingsuit Formation, certified by the United States Parachute Association. Wingsuit skydiving is still relatively new, so although a growing number of countries certify wingsuit records, we have not yet been recognised by the Federation Aeronautique International. If they give us the go-ahead, we can start setting official world records, including as many countries as possible.”
The four groups effectively came together in mid air, assembling in the vital diamond formation. 68 flyers in the right place at the right time. It was a remarkable achievement.
The jump took a year to organise and consisted of holding skills camps and achieving smaller records all over the world, as each jumper on this formation had to be qualified before being allowed to join the team. They did did 15 jumps at this event, seven of which were using all four planes together, before achieving the record.
Wingsuits allow skydivers greater freedom of movement while in freefall, making large scale formations easier. Airfoils are created by the flaps, with the resulting gliding affect comparable to a flying squirrel. The result was a spectacular kaleidoscope of colour and the aerial images were shot by British cameraman Mark Harris, who wore a helmet-mounted camera while flying a wingsuit on his back underneath the group.
The event was hosted by the Raise the Sky non-profit organisation, founded in 2009. The charity hopes to have a money raising goal associated with each jump, the proceeds of the Lake Elsinore jump going to the charity City Year which provides mentoring to keep underprivileged children in school.
This wingsuit record raised $5000 for the charity. Taya Weiss said “We drop out of planes to keep kids from dropping out of school.”
This is a long video (iscreamsu) of the various attempts at the record including the final successful one. It is well worth watching.