138 skydivers hit speeds of 220mph in snowflake formation
Falling at speeds of up to 220 mph, nearly 140 skydivers shattered the vertical skydiving world record Friday evening as they flew heads-down in a massive snowflake formation in northern Illinois.
Three judges representing the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the international air sports agency, certified that 138 skydivers created the formation over Ottawa, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago. It took 15 attempts over three days for the team to break the previous record of 108 skydivers, which was set in 2009.
“I feel amazing,” Rook Nelson, an organizer and the owner of Skydive Chicago where the record was broken, said shortly after he made the jump. “There was a lot of emotion and a lot of days where we should have got it. But we dug down deep and stuck at it.”
Months of planning
Following months of planning, tryouts and camps to decide who could take part in the dangerous challenge, the record breakers squeezed into six aircrafts and launched themselves into the air at 18,500 feet. Flying at such a high altitude presents a risk of altitude sickness, so the skydivers and pilots used oxygen tanks aboard the planes.
Skydivers traveled from all over the world to take part in the record attempt, including from France, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Belgium, Australia and the U.K. And one, 40-year-old Ahmed Sferi from Reunion, said he traveled for two days from his tiny Indian Ocean island home to reach Chicago so he could take part.