SOS World Record Event
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Above: SOS members track away from a nearly completed formation, one of several attempts that came up just shy of the record. Photo by Norman Kent.
April 7, 110 skydivers gathered at Skydive Perris in California to pursue a Skydivers Over Sixty large-formation world record. What set this team apart was not so much the members’ ages but their devotion to skydiving. Nearly all team members have been active jumpers for decades. They were not the kind of jumpers who rack up a couple of hundred jumps over a few years then go on to other interests. These are the skydivers for whom jumping has become a lifelong passion. Along the way they happened to age past 59 years, but that was only a minor part of what brought them together.
Not only were they highly experienced skydivers, they were also uncommon for people in their 60s and 70s. People their age often don’t have the fitness and strength to skydive let alone do it for four days straight with 7:30 a.m. calls. This was in part why the event was the subject of both regional and national news stories and a documentary film.
The team benefited from excellent leadership including two members of the International Skydiving Hall of Fame, Dan Brodsky-Chenfield and Kate Cooper-Jensen. Additional captains were Larry Henderson, Scott Latinis and Patrick Passe. The video team consisted of some of the best freefall camera flyers in the world: Craig O’Brien, Norman Kent, Gustavo Cabana and Luciano Bacque.
As with any world record event, there was a lot of dirt diving and run outs. The standard challenges surfaced including weather and a few logistical issues. In all, the event went amazingly well due in part to the efforts of pilots, packers, the dedicated Skydive Perris staff and tireless team manager Jen Wallace Domenico.
The participating jumpers gather for a group photo. Photo by Norman Kent.
Day one was long and tedious as the team was not able to jump due to winds. Day two the team headed up early. On the first jump, most of the team was not authorized to dock. It was an effort to see the pictures for the first time and feel out the fall rate. The second jump was the first record attempt and it was nearly complete. Every jumper docked but unfortunately a few joined the formation after a few others had dropped grips. It was an amazingly strong start that spoke to the talent of the team.
In all, there were eight attempts over the course of the event. Three of the last four attempts had only one jumper missing from the formation, a different jumper on each attempt. The team left without setting a world record. While disappointing, there was great joy for having spent four days together engaging their passion with valued friends from around the world. It will not be at all surprising if the team soon gives it another try. This is not the kind of group that gives up easily.
About the Author
Jim McCormick, D-12379, is a Colorado skydiver, author and organizational consultant. He has earned numerous state, national and world large-formation records. He is also the Director of Development for the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame.