Skydive Record Set


If the thought of jumping from a perfectly serviceable airplane just once gives you the jitters, consider how Jay Stokes spent his Saturday. The Yuma, Ariz., skydiving instructor got in 640 jumps (641 if you count the night jump where he missed the airport) in 24 hours. That’s one jump every two minutes and 14 seconds (counting the extra one) and is even more remarkable considering Stokes tore a leg muscle about a third of the way through the marathon, which took place at Greensburg Municipal Airport in Indiana, where he teaches during the summer. The old record was 534, which he set in California in 2003. About 130 volunteers took part in the effort, which involved a precisely timed sequence. After leaving the plane (a PAC-750) at 2,100 feet, Stokes would spiral to the ground in about 40 seconds. Volunteers would meet him as his feet touched the ground to unclip the deployed chute and strap him into a fresh one. There was one volunteer whose only job was to ensure a step was properly placed to allow him to jump quickly into the plane, which dove for the ground as soon as he’d exited. Volunteers on the plane strapped Stokes in as the power came on. His longest turnaround was about 10 minutes when he misjudged the exit point and landed in a field adjacent to the airport. He hitched a ride back to the field with a passerby as anxious volunteers began widening their search for him.