- Title: THAILAND: New world record set for largest freefall parachute formation
- Date: 11th February 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (English) WENDY SMITH, PROFESSIONAL SKYDIVER FROM NEW ZEALAND, SAYING: "Making this record here we have multi-nations, nations all over the world and it's the first time we have more than forty nations in the sky together at once, so it's a very special occasion."
- Embargoed: 26th February 2006 12:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky,Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA2Q20F15SW6TNT0GEAFXNXRWS1
- Story Text: Blue skies and calm wind conditions were the perfect combination to break a world record for 960 skydivers from forty different countries who made a daring jump on Saturday (February 11), the world's largest mass freefall ever recorded.
Hailing from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, the international team of skydivers made the simultaneous jump from thirteen aircraft belonging to the Royal Thai Air Force.
To ensure the safety of almost one thousand skydivers, the aircraft flew at different heights ranging from 7,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level so the skydivers could make staggered jumps.
The event was held as part of a Diamond Jubilee celebration to honour the 60th year of Thai King Bhumibol Adulvadei's reign. King Bhumibol Adulvadei is the 9th king in the Chakri dynasty which has ruled Thailand for the past 224 years.
Among the hundreds who parachuted down from the skies above Thailand's capital, Bangkok were many professional skydivers for whom world records certainly weren't anything new.
One of them, New Zealander Wendy Smith, has participated in five other skydiving world records and made 50,000 jumps in her 20 years of skydiving.
She told Reuters Saturday's jump was extra special.
"Making this record here we have multi-nations, nations all over the world and it's the first time we have more than forty nations in the sky together at once, so it's a very special occasion," said Smith.
Jubilant emotions were evident all round, and especially for one American among the onlookers, Michael Arzillo.
He was supposed to have been part of the jump but had fractured his pelvis when he went off course during a practice jump and hit some power lines.
Instead, he turned up on the sidelines to cheer on his team.
"I was here for the jump, I cheered them all on. I'm very proud. I'm honoured to be part of the team."
With Saturday's record, the World Team, supported by aircraft and crew from the Royal Thai Air Force, broke the previous world record they set in 2004 when 650 skydivers jumped together.
On Wednesday (February 08), another world record was set by the same team when they succeeded in holding a 400-person freefall formation for 4.25 seconds over Udon Thani, Thailand.
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