Starting Friday, June 28, dozens of skydivers will be attempting a state-record jump — 40 people jumping out of two planes and free-falling in formation over the Greenevile-Greene County Municipal Airport.
The current record, 34 connected parachutists, was set five years ago over Tullahoma, Tennessee. Organizers Angela Alley and Mikael Stevens, owners of Jump TN skydiving center in Greeneville, hope to bring that record to the Northeast corner of the state.
Stevens will turn 40 this year, and thought shattering the record would be a good way to celebrate the milestone.
Skydiver Lou Corleto, a Johnson City resident, said he is flying high after being invited to be one of the 40 jumpers.
“This is history in the making in Tennessee,” he said Wednesday. “No one’s ever done anything this large. It’s a measure of skill to jump with this large of a group.”
Building a formation at 18,000 feet takes precision. As skydivers grasp one another, their combined surface areas create more drag, slowing them down. A jumper not yet in the formation will be moving faster than the group and must carefully aim to join up, otherwise, he could fly right by and wreck the chance of beating the record for that jump.
Corleto said the skydivers will make at least 15 jumps over the weekend. If they break the record early on Friday, they may try to build upon it or chase other records.
Videographers and photographers will jump too, to confirm the record to the U.S. Parachute Association, the organization that keeps track of the sport’s highest, longest and largest.
If they set a new record, Corleto said he thinks it will stand for a while, because of the aircraft needed to get so many divers in the air. Jumpers from Skydive Chicago are bringing two large skydiving planes, a Twin Otter and a Sky Van, to haul all 40 people and their gear into the air.
Many of the people coming to Greeneville for the attempt are world-class skydivers, with competitions and hall of fame awards under their belts. The person shooting the official video of the attempt is a Skydiving Hall of Fame inductee.
“It’s a blast to work with this level of athletes to achieve this record,” Corleto said. “It’s a physical challenge, but it’s really a mental challenge as well, because everybody needs to keep focus and make sure they nail their parts to get the record.”
Three dozen people falling in formation and parachuting down to the ground will be a spectacular sight, even for the people down below, Corleto said.
The organizers have invited the public, free of charge, to watch from near the drop zone at the Greeneville-Greene County Municipal Airport, 246 Airport Road, Greeneville. Starting at noon Friday, June 28, parachutists will jump through Sunday.
For more information, find Jump TN on Facebook or visit www.jumptn.com.