The 2002 US Record Attempts 

United States Canopy Formation Record

2002 49-way US Record Formation (Computer Generated)
49 Way to Boeing 747 and 737-400 Size Comparison

Click to Enlarge Photo

LAKE WALES, Fla. -- If you look skyward on Thanksgiving weekend you'll see an object the size of a 747 made entirely of humans, nylon and rope, falling at 1000 feet per minute.

What you are seeing is the United States record for Canopy Formation skydiving.  To complete the record it will take 50 skydivers, 17,000 sq. ft. of nylon and 3 miles of parachute line.  When completed the formation will stand 200 feet tall, stretch 120 feet wide and weigh 10,000 pounds.
4 Way
16 Way

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Canopy formation is one of the disciplines in the sport of skydiving. It differs from the freefall technique usually associated with the sport. Formation jumpers release their parachutes within a few seconds of leaving the airplane.  In a pre-planned maneuver they join together to build airborne formations by hooking their feet in the parachute lines of the other jumpers.  The canopy formation can be as small as 2 jumpers or as large as the 1996 world record, set in Germany with 53 jumpers.

1994 46-way World Record Formation
50 Way World Record Formation Sept. 4, 1996
53 Way World Record Formation Sept. 6, 1996
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Engineering the formation takes extensive planning and experience.  Two airplanes will be required to carry the jumpers to the predetermined altitude.  The skydivers in the first plane will build the base, or the foundation of the airborne formation.  They will exit the lead plane at 15,000.  The jumpers in the following plane will exit at 13,500 feet and fly back to the base and dock on the formation, to build the US record of 50 jumpers.  They have 7 minutes from start to finish to complete the formation. 

Aircraft coordination is essential to the success of the record.  The wind direction and wind speed on the ground and during the ascent to altitude must be constantly monitored by the pilots and the organizers.  A Global Positioning System will be used to accurately determine where the jumpers must exit in order to land back at the drop zone.

Two members of the United States Canopy Formation team, Chris Gay and Mark Gregory, along with experienced Canopy Formation pilots, David Richardson and Mike Lewis are organizing the event.

These men have an extensive history in organizing  record breaking canopy formations. Gay and Richardson engineered the first diamond shaped canopy formation in Brazil in 1995.  In February 2001Gay and Richardson were invited back to Brazil to organize the South American record.   Gregory joined them in the effort.  The South American record was a 30 way diamond.  Lewis is credited with being the lead organizer for the World Record built in Germany in 1996.

The previous United States Canopy Formation Record of 46 skydivers was completed in October of 1994.  This accomplishment was recognized by the National Aeronautical Association as being one of the Ten Most Memorable Record Flights in 1994.  The FAA presented an award to the organizers of this event in March of 1995 at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. 

Skydivers from across the United States and the world will gather at Lake Wales Florida  from  November 28th-December 1st to participate in the record attempt.  Members of the British Army skydiving team, the Spitfire Tigers, will be attending as well as jumpers from Brazil, Argentina, Finland, and Russia. 

All jumpers will use the same type of parachute.  The Lightning by Performance Designs  has become the
standard for this type of skydiving.  For the Canopy Formation to be stable it is important that the jumpers
use the same type of parachute even though they will be of different sizes. 

The record attempt is not being done by a group of young jumpers who are all skydiving experts.  The age of the jumpers ranges from 22 to 68. The time spent in the sport of skydiving spans from 3 years to 39 years.   Five of the participants are grandparents. Most are in their forties. 

The participants come from a variety of backgrounds.  What they all have in common is a passion for skydiving. 

When the jumpers gather to build the United States record in Thanksgiving, the outlook is Blue Skies and Big Diamonds in the Air.
1994 46-way World Record Formation
Largest attempted canopy formation 56 parachutes

Click to Enlarge Photo

For more information contact:

Dave Richardson at:
home:  919-542-6552 
cell:     919-389-2052
Chris J. Gay at:
cell:  229-881-7249

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