Jumpers Break Head-Down Record at Skydive Chicago


An international team of skydivers from 23 nations built a 164-way head-down formation on Friday, July 31, at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, eclipsing the 138-Way World Record for Largest Head-Down Formation set at the same location in 2012. It took 13 attempts to build the formation, which resembled a giant flower. International formation skydiving judges Randy Connell, Marylou Laughlin and Jami Pillasch certified the performance, which will now go to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for ratification.

Organizers selected the elite participants by holding training and selection camps in Australia, Spain and across the U.S. The aircraft pilots' precision flying was vital to the attempt. The jumpers, who used oxygen during the flight, exited seven aircraft flying in formation at 19,700 feet and broke off at 7,500 feet. Their average fall rate was about 160 mph.

The jump drew the attention of major TV networks and newspapers around the world. Melissa Nelson-Lowe, sister of organizer Rook Nelson and a participant in the world record, commented , “It’s always nice to have something we are so passionate about go viral and spread something inspiring and positive to the world.” Ninety-four USPA members took part in the record jump. USPA congratulates Rook Nelson and the record-setters for their extraordinary achievement. Look for a full story in the October issue of Parachutist.