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After a tense moment of watching the 16th jump on the big screen in the hangar, those were the enlightening words spoken by David Nimmo. After that, cheering, hugging, kissing and relief. We did it. A new head up European record of 43 people!
Getting to this final moment did not happen overnight. This year the Fly warriors team ®David Nimmo, Gustavo Cabana, Luis Lopez-Mendez and Rafaël Coudray organized 2 official tryout events prior to the record attempts in June. All events were held at Skydive Empuriabrava. Like the record attempts, these were well organized tryouts with the goal of seeing who was capable of flying the record and having everyone ready to set a new European record. From participants to the pilots, everyone had a good chance to be able to practice on the tryouts events. For the participants this was a great opportunity to be able to fly multiple plane head up formations bigger than most participants have flown before. After each try out event everyone got a performance report, as feedback, by email showing them what was good and what they need to work on.
The record attempts were spread over 4 days and 20 jumps. All jumps were done from 17.000 ft, from 3 airplanes. The Porter was taken off first, followed by the twin otter and last to take off was the Beech. All equipped with oxygen to keep everyone sharp for each jump. Photo and video were done by Gustavo Cabana and Will Penny. Jasper van der Meer was present as a helping hand to assist the Fly Warriors.
The setup was to do 6 jumps a day. 4 Jumps were done before lunch and after a long break of approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, 2 jumps were done at the end of the day. The goal was to set a new European record of 45 people. The old European record was set by the Germans in 2016. 22 Persons. There were around 79 participants from 10 different European countries. 45 People were selected to be in the record attempts and 34 people were in the bench team. The bench team was doing jumps as well. Everyone on the record attempts could “afford” 1 mistake.
After every attempt a thorough debrief was done by Nimmo. Keeping the motivation high and making changes if needed. For some it meant taking a step back doing some jumps with the bench team. For others in the beach team, this meant that they got a shot in the record attempts. The first 2 days were all 45 way attempts. Progression was clearly visible every time. One jump to a microsecond it was so close to being a record. Just one grip was missing. The 3rd day the decision was made to make the record smaller. Attempt 15 was done with 44 people and attempt 16 was done with 43.
Attempt 16 was the last jump on the 3rd day before the lunch break. Before getting into the planes a pep talk was given by Nimmo – in a way only he could do it! Getting the motivation to the highest level and also putting a smile on our faces, many people had the feeling this could be the jump. The planes took us up to 17,000 feet again and after exit the formation was building fast and better than all the attempts before. It’s hard to see everyone in a formation this big but close to the end of the jump a lot of people were nodding their head almost knowing that we had the record!
Between landing and the debrief the tension was intense. Not sure whether a new European record was set or not the wait was on the debrief. After the video was started, it became very quiet in the hangar. Everyone looking at the video. The video was paused after the last guy docked on the formation. Then the words of Nimmo:
The new European record is here!
Officially a 43 way. Unofficially a 44 way to honour Dany Henschen who sadly passed away 2 weeks after the tryouts in April.