British formation skydiving record achieved, then broken, at Skydive Langar
We’re very proud to have achieved a new British formation skydiving record with a 41-way 2 point sequential jump…
…a record we then broke two jumps later with a third point!
I was thrilled to be part of the organiser team for this event alongside Will Cooke and Phil Curtis. The record was hosted at Skydive Langar and supported by UPT, Sun Path Products Ltd and Performance Designs.
We welcomed 44 skydivers in total who came together on 12 July 2023 with the common goal of achieving a new formation skydiving record and, hopefully, inspiring newer skydivers to get into or continue with FS.
41 of us were in the formation, with three camera flyers – Andy Ford, Alex Potter and Gary Wainwright – there to capture the magic.
The idea of the record attempt first came up just before Christmas 2022. We’ve all done bigway to varying degrees and for myself and Will, having achieved our goal of winning the 4-way UK Nationals, meant we were on the lookout for our next project. This one seemed like a great way to push the boundaries in the discipline we love by setting a new record and doing what’s never been done before!
The first step to bringing it to fruition was to see how realistic the number was. With freeflying and tracking growing in popularity, formation skydiving isn’t as popular as it once was. But we also have so many amazingly talented FS jumpers in the UK that we felt it must be possible.
We needed people with exceptional FS skills, who would be comfortable and capable of building sequential points. Big-way skills were also important but the need to quickly get through points meant we valued the experience of 4-way and 8-way competitors. We also wanted freeflyers in our line-up based on a hypothesis (that was proven correct) that they would be well suited to the last diver slots, facilitating as quick a build as possible out of our three Caravans.
Once we had the people and the drop zone secured, we had to design a dive that would give us the best chance of success. We knew that the biggest hurdle would be the initial build, especially when using Caravans, as the exits tend to be longer than exits from an Otter or Skyvan. For this reason, we needed a formation which was shaped around three longer dives, but we also needed it to be solid – meaning we weren’t keen to start the jump with elements like open accordians, which can be a little flimsy. Instead, Will drew up a formation with a six-person base and surrounding loops, diamonds and pods with clear cross references and mirroring to make it as quick and stable to build as we could.
From there, the trick was to achieve the goal of a total break sequential formation as efficiently as we could. To meet the rules, we had to have everyone let go of their grips and pick up an entirely different grip next. But we didn’t want too much movement. For that reason, the second point brought in open accordians which we built on a slight offset, while the third point brought more people into the centre.
The record attempts were planned to span over two days, with us repeating the jump by adding more points each time, which would be pre-declared to Chantal as our official judge. We anticipated six jumps per day and had some fun and more challenging formations planned after the record was secured, if we wanted.
As it happened, we were plagued with weather holds and it was only thanks to the patience of our team and the dedication of our drop zone that we were able to get five jumps in over two days.
British Record # 1 !
The first jump was intended to help us set the scene and we declared a two point dive – which would itself be a new British record. Not only did we do it, but we did it by 8,000 feet!
British Record # 2 !
Our next jump targeted the three-point dive and though we made three points, the second had an incorrect grip – spotted by the eagle eyes of Chantal and rendering it invalid for a record. The third jump of the day – coming late in the evening – was the one for us and we managed the three points neatly and efficiently. It was the second British record achieved that day!
Day two was trickier still with the weather and we had a number of attempts at kitting up before standing down. Huge respect to Skydive Langar for enabling us to keep trying and being patient with us and our needs. It was thanks to them, and the work of the whole team, that meant we got two more jumps in, but sadly the fourth point stayed just out of reach. Thanks to all the team at Langar, especially our ace pilots Gareth Thomas, Josh Carratt and Dave Epton.
We’re so proud and excited to have been able to set a new British record! We all love formation skydiving so much and our hope is that records like this help to inspire others to get involved in it too.
“We’re very fortunate to have some exceptional skydivers right here in the UK and to be able to bring them all together for this event was a real privilege.”Will Cooke, Event Organiser