61 wingsuit skydivers soar over California, set formation record

  • AP, Los Angeles
  • Updated: Oct 21, 2015 10:32 IST
This photo, provided by Skydive Perris, shows 61 wingsuit skydivers setting a new world record for the largest aerial formation in the sky over Perris, Calif., about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Exiting from three aircraft at 13,5000 feet, flyers formed a diamond shape in flight, covering a distance of more than two miles, before dispersing at 5,500 feet. The record event included participants from 12 countries. (AP Photo)

Sixty-one wingsuit skydivers flew into the record books after creating a diamond-shaped formation while soaring over California before breaking apart and floating to the ground.

The group set the record for the largest such formation Saturday at Skydive Perris, southeast of Los Angeles, Taya Weiss, the jump’s lead organiser, said on Tuesday. It shattered the old record set by 42 flyers in June.

Weiss said the record was verified by a panel of judges from Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the international group that keeps track of skydiving and other aviation-related records.

One judge on the ground witnessed the jumpers leap from three separate aircraft at 13,500 feet (4,100 metres), create the formation and then break apart at 5,500 feet (1,600 metres). Two other judges reviewed photos of the jump later and confirmed on Monday that it was official.

“It was an absolutely incredible experience,” said Weiss, who was also one of the jumpers. “We’re a very small community, although we’re growing, and to get everyone together from all over the world, especially to achieve such a difficult goal, is very rewarding.”

Wingsuit flyers from 12 countries -- including the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, Russia, Poland, South Africa and Israel -- took part.

Weiss said the flyers actually broke the old record twice on Saturday. After 50 people went out for a first jump there was time for a second one, so 11 more joined in.

Skydive Perris was the site of another record earlier this month when 202 divers linked up to form the world’s largest sequential skydiving formation.

Wingsuit diving differs in that skydivers wear special suits with pressurized wings attached to their bodies, allowing them to glide horizontally while they fall at a slower rate than regular skydivers.

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