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Entries in Skydiving (12)

Monday
Mar252013

Skydive Instructor, Student Killed in Florida Jump

ABC News(ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla.) -- Police are investigating how an experienced sky diving instructor and his student fell more than 13,000 feet to their deaths and did not deploy their main parachutes at a popular southwest Florida camp.

Pasco County sheriff’s authorities identified the victims as 41-year-old instructor Orvar Arnarson and 25-year-old student Andrimar Pordarson. The men were part of a group from Iceland, training and vacationing at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Fla., on Saturday.

T.K. Hayes, general manager and president of Skydive City, said it appears Arnarson and Pordarson didn’t activate their main parachutes.

“There’s a multitude of scenarios. They lost track of altitude, weren’t paying attention for whatever reason if they were distracted, most likely by something else going on. Who knows,” Hayes said Sunday.

Both men had backup automatic activation devices, which deploy if the main parachutes are not opened in time. The backup chutes, the company says, did not fully inflate before they hit the ground.

The two men had successfully completed two other jumps Saturday morning with 20 other people. The men jumped separately, not in tandem. When Arnarson and Pordarson did not return from their third jump, Pasco County sheriff’s department launched a search to look for the two skydivers.

Following a nine-hour search, the pair were finally located in a wooded area near Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, about a mile away from where they were supposed to land.

Authorities hope a camera worn by one of the men may give them some clues into what happened during the jump.

“We’re reviewing the tape. We’re reviewing anything that may have been said, on the camera,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

Last year across the U.S., 19 skydivers died out of 3.1 million jumps, according to the United States Parachute Association.

Arnarson was a seasoned veteran of the dare-devilish sport, who reportedly had thousands of successful jumps under his belt. For Pordarson, this was his eighth jump.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Felix Baumgartner Set to Break Sound Barrier with 120,000-Foot Skydive

Red Bull(ROSWELL, N.M.) -- In a jump set to break the sound barrier, as well as the world record for highest skydive, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner is ready to leap from the edge of space -- 23 miles above Roswell, N.M. -- on Tuesday.

When he jumps, Baumgartner will accelerate from zero to 690 miles per hour in 35 seconds, and become supersonic for almost a minute of the roughly 10-minute leap.  This feat could ordinarily only be accomplished by a supersonic jet, or perhaps the space shuttle.  But the 43-year-old daredevil believes he can do it using only his body.

"I practiced this for so many years, and now, we are almost there, so this is my biggest dream," he said.

Baumgartner's dream would be most people's nightmare.  To get to 120,000 feet above Earth -- four times higher than most passenger jets fly -- Baumgartner will hitch a ride on a capsule attached to a balloon 55 stories tall.

"We are using a helium balloon to get to the stratosphere, but to get there we have to transit the death zone," Jonathan Clark Stratos, the project's medical director, said.

The pressure is so low at 120,000 feet that if Baumgartner's suit fails, his lungs would burst and his blood would boil.  But the most dangerous moment of the jump comes when Baumgartner opens the capsule door and jumps out.

Threats of extreme cold, extreme temperature fluctuations, the possibility of an uncontrolled flat spin -- which could hit 220 rpm -- drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, and life support systems' failing are all potential threats for Tuesday's feat.

Baumgartner has successfully leaped twice from lower altitudes, but 120,000 feet will shatter the record set 52 years ago by former Air Force pilot Joe Kittinger, who is now 84 years old and admitted he was a little jealous.

"Hell yes," Kittinger said, when asked about Baumgartner's exploit.  "If he decides he doesn't want to do it, I will go."

Baumgartner, who has a "Born to Fly" tattoo on his arm, said not a chance.

"It's just me.  I like paragliding.  I like helicopters.  I just love to be near the sky, that is my second home, that is where I belong," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner Lives by 'Born to Fly' Mantra

Red Bull(NEW YORK) -- "Born to Fly" reads the tattoo on 43-year-old Felix Baumgartner's arm.  When he steps off the ledge of his capsule Tuesday morning, 120,000 feet above Earth, he will be flying faster than the speed of sound.  His body will go from zero to 690 mph in 34 seconds, and he will be supersonic for almost a minute -- free-falling for 5 minutes and 35 seconds.

"Born to Fly" isn't just his mantra; Baumgartner lives it as a skydiver who has flown across the English Channel and dreamed of even bigger feats.  For five years, he has been training with a top-notch team from Red Bull on a project dubbed Stratos -- Mission from the Edge of Space.

Baumgartner plans to ride in a capsule carried aloft by massive helium filled to 120,000 feet.  Only one person has done this before -- the legendary Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger in 1960.

The balloon carrying Baumgartner aloft is incredibly large and just as fragile.  It can't launch with winds greater than 6 mph, so the team's meteorologist will be watching -- and waiting -- for fair weather.

If this ambitious mission succeeds, Baumgartner will break several records:

  • First human to break the speed of sound in in free-fall (Mach 1 more than 690 mph)
  • Highest free-fall altitude --120,000 feet (Kittinger hit 105,000 feet in 1960)
  • Highest manned balloon flight at 120,000 feet (previous record was 113,740 feet in 1961)
  • Longest free-fall (Baumgartner's team expects 5 minutes, 35 seconds; Kittinger's was 4 minutes, 36 seconds in 1960)
  • Largest manned balloon in history at 550 feet tall, with a volume of 30 million cubic feet

Dr. Jonathan Clark is the chief medical officer for this effort.  He is a former NASA flight surgeon currently with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and can recite the risks of this ride in his sleep.

This, he says, is a very hostile environment: "We are using a helium balloon to get to the stratosphere, but to get there we have to transit the death zone."

It is dangerous.  Every member of the team acknowledges the threats of extreme cold, extreme temperature fluctuations, the possibility of an uncontrolled flat spin that could hit 220 rpm, drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, and life support systems failure.

But Baumgartner told ABC News he doesn't think of any of this when he is standing on the step of his capsule looking down at Earth.

"You hear yourself breathing.  You can see the curvature of Earth, the sky is totally black.  It is a kind of overwhelming view because you have never seen a black sky, but then you can't stand there forever," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct052012

Daredevil Felix Baumgartner Preps for 120,000-Foot Skydive

Red Bull(ROSWELL, N.M.) -- Felix Baumgartner has a tattoo on his arm: "Born to Fly."  He will put that to the ultimate test on Monday, when he attempts a record-setting, death-defying jump from the edge of space.

"I practiced this for so many years and now we are almost there," he said.  "So this is my biggest dream, and we are one step closer."

One step closer to a dream that would be a nightmare for most people -- stepping out of a capsule 120,000 feet (23 miles) above Roswell, N.M., to plummet back to Earth at 690 mph.  If all goes as hoped, he will be in freefall for almost five minutes, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier outside an aircraft.  He will break records that have stood for 52 years.  

Red Bull is sponsoring this mission, called Stratos, and its team of 200 has worked for five years to make this mission a success.

Baumgartner already jumped from 90,000 feet in July.  That was practice.

Every member of the team acknowledges the risks: extreme cold, the vacuum of space, temperature fluctuations, an uncontrolled flat spin that could hit 220 rpm, drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, and life support systems failure.

Baumgartner will ascend in a pressurized capsule at dawn, in a balloon that will be 700 feet tall when filled with helium.  The preparations start at midnight, with an hour or so to oxygenate Baumgartner to purge his body of nitrogen.

The ascent to 120,000 feet will take a couple of hours.  Once Baumgartner reaches altitude, he will depressurize the capsule, step out onto a ledge, and dive back down to Earth -- a plunge that could take seven minutes.  He will have parachutes to slow him down when he hits 5,000 feet or terminal velocity. 

Terminal velocity occurs when a falling body experiences zero acceleration -- as he gets closer to Earth, the atmosphere gets denser so he will slow down and there will be less friction on his spacesuit.  Or so they hope.

Dr. Jonathan Clark heads the medical team and ticks off the risks on his fingers: "If you are going to be above 50,000 feet you wear a pressure suit, above 63,000 feet the water in your body would start to boil and your body is 70 percent water."

If Baumgartner succeeds he will break the record set on Aug. 16, 1960, when Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 102,900 feet.  He fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his decent at 18,000 feet.  He made history for the highest balloon ascent, the highest parachute jump, and the fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep172012

Four Generations Skydive for Washington Man's 87th Birthday

KOMO/ABC News(TACOMA, Wash.) -- Monty Montgomery had one wish for his 87th birthday. He wanted to go skydiving, and he wanted it to be a four-generation family event.

His family granted his wish. Montgomery's 60-year-old daughter, Donna Haskins, took the leap with him, along with a 38-year-old grandson and a 19-year-old granddaughter in Tacoma, Wash.

It took several years for Montgomery to convince Haskins to take the jump, but he said it was important to him to do it now because he is going blind.

"He has macular degeneration, so he's losing his eyesight, and my son is deploying to Afghanistan in the near future, and he wanted to do it while he could still see and while he grandson was still here," Haskins told ABC News.

Montgomery is blind in his left eye, but still has some vision his right eye.

 

The group jumped out of a plane at 13,000 feet and fell for 8,000 feet before deploying parachutes.

"It was awesome," Haskins said. "When you're doing the free fall, it's like the world was at my feet and the horizon was beautiful, and it just felt very freeing."

Montgomery told ABC News' Seattle affiliate KOMO-TV that he was thrilled to feel the fall, hear the wind, smell and taste the air, but, most of all, that he could see the view.

"He loved it," Haskins said. "He wants to skydive once more."

The adventure was especially meaningful for Montgomery and Haskins, who were reunited seven years ago after a divorce separated them when Haskins was a child.

"I took me a while to just work through all the emotions of the whole thing and I finally contacted him. I called him on the phone and said, 'This is your daughter,'" she said. "We met and we've had many adventures, skydiving being the best."

When Montgomery saw Haskins seven years ago, he told KOMO he "cried like a baby."

"One day I don't have a family and the next day I have beaucoups of them," Montgomery said with a laugh. He is expecting his first great-great-grandchild next spring.

He and his family are relishing all of their time together.

"He's got a very quick wit," Haskins said. "He's very funny and he's a typical man from that generation. He does not like to show emotion, but now as he's around his family and great-grandchildren, he can be very tender and emotional."

The 87-year-old Montgomery is already planning his next big adventure.

"He said that he would like to try bungee jumping," Haskins said. "He walks every day and he lives alone, and he still cooks and takes care of his house. He's just amazing for his age."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul252012

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner Completes 18-Mile Dive

Red Bull(ROSWELL, N.M.) -- Daredevil Felix Baumgartner this morning landed from his 18-mile dive back to Earth from the edge of space, in a plummet that reached a speed of 600 mph in 20 seconds.

Mission Control gave the go ahead this morning for the launch, saying "God Speed Felix" from Roswell, N.M., where the mission is being hosted. Baumgartner, an Austrian national, was lifted in a capsule carried afloat by a huge helium balloon.

The balloon took 90 minutes to get to 90,000 feet. The crane holding the capsule went up as fast as it could to get the capsule under the 210-foot tall balloon as it rose. After he jumped, Baumgartner was in freefall for five minutes. After five minutes, his parachute opened, at which point it took another seven to 10 minutes to descend to Earth.

"The pressure is huge, and we not only have to endure but excel," Baumgartner told ABC News before the jump. "We're excellently prepared, but it's never going to be a fun day. I'm risking my life, after all."

Red Bull is financing the daredevil skydive from space. The mission is named Stratos. It was five years of planning by a team of experts, many volunteering their services, to break several records in one breathtaking plunge back to Earth.

This was the second test dive for Baumgartner, who plans on a record-breaking jump from 125,000 feet, or 23 miles, next month.

The records "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner plans to break include those for the first person to break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft, the record for freefall from the highest altitude, and that for the longest freefall time, expected to be five minutes and 35 seconds, and that for the highest-manned balloon flight.

Baumgartner would be breaking a 52-year-old record, and he recruited the man who set the record, the legendary retired Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger, for advice.

Kittinger jumped from a balloon Aug. 16, 1960, at an altitude of 102,900 feet, and fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his descent at 18,000 feet.

He made history for the highest-balloon ascent, the highest parachute jump and the fastest speed by a human through the atmosphere.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul242012

Skydiver to Jump from Edge of Space Wednesday

Red Bull(ROSWELL, N.M.) -- It seems appropriate that Roswell, ground zero for UFO hunters, is hosting the mission to the edge of space because the sight of daredevil Felix Baumgartner diving back to Earth from 90 thousand feet will certainly spark new UFO conspiracy theories.

Baumgartner will go from zero to perhaps 509 mph in 30 seconds when he jumps from his space capsule. An attempt was scrubbed Tuesday morning because of high winds; another try could be made Wednesday.

He hit 365 mph when he jumped from 71,000 feet in March -- and he is expected to go supersonic in August when he dives from 120 thousand feet. That's zero to 690 mph in 25 seconds -- a human body breaking the sound barrier without an airplane. Most people go to the edge of space or beyond in a rocket. Baumgartner is going up in a capsule carried aloft by a huge helium balloon.

"The pressure is huge, and we not only have to endure but excel," he said. "We're excellently prepared, but it's never going to be a fun day, I'm risking my life, after all."

Red Bull is financing this daredevil skydive from space. The mission is named Stratos. Five years of planning by a team of experts, many volunteering their services, went into the jump, which is set to break several records in one breathtaking plunge back to Earth, including:

  • First person to break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft.
  • Record for freefall from the highest altitude
  • Longest freefall time; five minutes 35 seconds approximately.
  • Highest manned balloon flight.

This daredevil dive from near space is not a first. The Austrian Baumgartner will be breaking a 52-year-old record if he succeeds, and he wisely recruited the man who set the record, the legendary Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger, for advice.

On Aug. 16, 1960, Kittinger jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 102,900 feet -- and fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his descent at 18,000 feet. He made history for the highest balloon ascent, the highest parachute jump, and the fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere.

"Somebody will beat them someday, but when they do it, they'll be doing it to beat a record," Kittinger said in a 2008 interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl. "We didn't make those records at the time just for that purpose"

He now says he is happy to cede his record to Baumgartner -- but joked, "I told him if he changes his mind, I am ready to take over for him."

Weather is critical because the massive balloon is fragile and tears easily; it can't launch with winds in excess of 4 mph or under heavy cloud cover.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May282012

80-Year-Old Skydiver Laughs About Terrifying Fall

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- To mark her 80th birthday, Laverne Everett went skydiving, but the tandem jump went horribly wrong and video of the terrifying experience has gone viral.

Now, Everett is talking about the frightening experience shown on her keepsake video, where she appears to have been pushed out of the aircraft after seemingly being reluctant, and then completely slips out of her upper harness.

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In the video, which was shot during the dive last year, Everett is shown clinging to her instructor for dear life while they plunge to earth from 13,000 feet, traveling at 125 miles per hour.  Her experience is only now creating waves because her sister recently posted it online as a way to share the experience with out-of-state family members.

“I just held on,” Everett said, laughing, in a Friday interview with KOVR TV in Sacramento, Calif., in which she described plunging to the earth while nearly falling out of her harness.

She and her jump partner managed to land safely. She seems to have a sense of humor about the whole thing when she describes the incident to KOVR.

Referring to the moment when her instructor is forcing her out the door despite what appear to be her having second thoughts, the Oakdale, Calif., woman said that’s not really what happened. She said her bad knee gave out as she was at the door.

“He had to give me a little nudge,” Everett, now 81, said. “He knew how bad I wanted to jump.”

She said it’s a blessing that her shirt blew up over her head, because it blocked her view of her precarious descent.

“I had just one little peephole of light shining through. I didn’t get to see anything,” she said.

Everett jumped with The Parachute Center, a skydiving company in Acampo, Calif.

Skydiving fatalities are on the decline these days, with some 21 deaths out of 3 million jumpers in 2010, a 0.007 chance of death, according to the United States Parachute Association.

Nancy Koreen, a spokeswoman for the association, said they were aware of the incident before the video was posted. It looked as if Laverne’s harness wasn’t adjusted properly, and that she wasn’t positioned properly before the jump, she said.

“But that’s not at all a common occurrence,” she said. “It’s extremely, extremely rare.”

In a statement to ABCNews.com, company owner Bill Dause wrote:  “This happened a long time ago and everything worked as advertised. No one got hurt or injured.”

Everett celebrated her 81st birthday at home, but she’s already planning her next stunt.

“I never have ridden in a race car,” she said.

ABC News has learned the Federal Aviation Administration sent a safety inspector Friday to investigate the company. In just the last two years, the company has racked up nearly $1 million in FAA penalties for apparently failing to properly maintain aircraft.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May262012

FAA Investigating 80 Year Old's Skydive Mishap

iStockPhoto/ThinkStock(WASHINGTON) -- One 80 year old grandmother’s terrifying skydive is being investigated by the FAA after it went viral.

The video was created by The Parachute Center, a skydiving company in Acampo, Calif., as a memento for jumpers to take home after their airborne adventures.

It shows a woman named Laverne having second thoughts right before her jump, but the instructor scoops her up and they fall out of the plane. At one point in the video, it appears that Laverne has slipped out of her harness, and the instructor grabs on to her.

In a statement to ABC News, Parachute Center owner Bill Dause said, “This happened a long time ago and everything worked as advertised. No one got hurt or injured.”

An FAA safety inspector visited The Parachute Center on Saturday, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. The inspector spoke with the company owner and employees about the incident and plans to do additional interviews and examine records next week.

Skydiving fatalities are on the decline these days, with some 21 deaths out of 3 million jumpers in 2010, a 0.007 chance of death, according to the association.

Nancy Koreen, a spokesperson for the association, said it looked as if Laverne’s harness wasn’t adjusted properly, and that she wasn’t positioned properly before the jump. “But that’s not at all a common occurrence,” she said. “It’s extremely, extremely rare.”

Even so, Laverne will probably celebrate her next birthday on solid ground.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio Online

Saturday
May262012

80-Year-Old Woman’s Skydiving Trip from Hell

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ACAMPO, Calif.) -- A video of an elderly woman’s skydiving adventure gone horribly awry has gone viral, perhaps serving as a warning literally to look before you leap -- or at least to mind your elders when it looks like they actually don’t want to jump out of the plane.

The video was created by The Parachute Center, a skydiving company in Acampo, Calif., as a memento for jumpers to take home after their airborne adventures.

But someone posted it on The Chive, a video site on which a counter said it has been viewed more than 170,000 times. It shows Laverne, an energetic woman who has just turned 80 and has rounded up a crew of female relatives to go skydiving with her. She tells the camera that she’s “real excited,” and that she has wanted to do this for “at least 10 years.”

Cut to the plane taking off to an upbeat rock tune by The Offspring. We see Laverne smiling, looking out the window, and putting on her safety goggles. A few jumpers dive from the open plane window and whoosh down toward the earth below. Looks like they’re all having fun.

But wait a second -- something’s wrong. The Offspring song has been cranked up and it’s Laverne’s turn to jump with her towheaded tandem instructor, but it looks as if she’s having second thoughts. She’s no longer smiling and is instead clinging to the side of the open door. Then her legs buckle and she’s sitting down, refusing to move, and appears to mouth the word “No!”

Instead of letting the poor woman just sit it out -- it’s not like they’re on an episode of Fear Factor, right? -- the instructor scoops her up and they fall forward out of the plane.

The camera person has also jumped, so from his vantage point, we see that Laverne has evidently slipped out of her harness so that the straps are attaching her to her instructor from behind her knees. She’s also clinging to him with her arms. And her shirt has flown up, so we see part of Laverne’s torso. The instructor starts trying to pull her shirt down, which is the last thing we see before the camera cuts to the scenery thousands of feet below them.

The souvenir video from hell finishes from the ground, where we see the duo land in the distance and two employees run toward them. Laverne appears to be okay, but says something to the effect of “Let me get my clothes,” as she tugs at her blouse. The instructor seems shaken and one of the other employees is consoling him.

“This happened a long time ago and everything worked as advertised,” said Parachute Center owner Bill Dause in a statement to ABC News. “No one got hurt or injured.” In a separate call to the center, an employee who answered the phone said the video was a year old, but said he had no more information.

The FAA, reached by ABC News, said the video first came to its attention late Thursday.

An FAA safety inspector visited The Parachute Center Friday, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. The inspector spoke with the company owner and employees about the incident and plans to do additional interviews and examine records next week, Gregor said.

Jim Crouch, director of safety and training for the U.S. Parachute Association, said he heard about the incident last June. He had not seen the video until it spread online this week.

Skydiving fatalities are on the decline these days, with some 21 deaths out of 3 million jumpers in 2010, a 0.007 chance of death, according to the association.

Nancy Koreen, a spokesperson for the association, said it looked as if Laverne’s harness wasn’t adjusted properly, and that she wasn’t positioned properly before the jump. “But that’s not at all a common occurrence,” she said. “It’s extremely, extremely rare.”

There have been two similar incidents of harness slippage, in which skydivers slipped out of their harnesses completely, said Koreen. Both happened about a decade ago, she said, and afterwards harness manufacturers modified them to have an extra strap across the skydiver’s back.

“The USPA does everything that we can to reinforce proper training for instructors, constantly issuing reminders to make sure that instructors are properly adjusting their student harnesses to avoid any kind of situation where the students isn’t situated properly or comes loose,” Koreen said.

Even so, Laverne will probably celebrate her next birthday on solid ground.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio