Last August, 138 skydivers fell together at speeds of up to 220 mph to break the vertical skydiving world record. For those of you unfamiliar with vertical skydiving, here’s an organizers explanation: “It’s basically doing a headstand” in the air.
Let’s review: 138 people. Falling out of six planes from 18,500 feet. At 220 mph. Upside down. Eventually coming together to hold hands in the shape of a snowflake. And it was all recorded onto just-released-this-week video, shot by four additional camera-toting divers. (Have you hit play yet?)
Flyers came from all over the world to participate—after being selected after rounds of tryouts, jumps and swaps on the team. Three judges from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, or the international air sports agency, were present to witness and ratify the world record status.
In case there’s any question as to why they were so selective and precise in choosing the jumpers, an article by the Associated Press from the initial record breaking day explains:
If they're not paying attention when diving into the formation at upwards of 220 mph, "it's going to be like someone running a red light and you taking them out," said Rook Nelson, an organizer and the owner of Skydive Chicago where the record was broken.
Each skydiver knew exactly when to exit the aircraft, whom to follow and where in the formation they should be. At 7,000 feet, the skydivers began to peel away on a last-in, first-out basis, and each wave deployed their parachutes at altitudes specified according to their positions in the formation.