Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Women's record jump

September 26, 2009: 181 women all united (click to enlarge)

In 1999, some really motivated women got together a bunch of really top-notch women skydivers and set the world record for the largest number of women together in a freefall formation: 118. This picture above shows the fourth time that they have gathered the best women skydivers in the world together to make a record. Last Saturday, 181 women were connected for the regulation 3 seconds in this formation to raise awareness for breast cancer research. These women also collected over $900,000 to contribute to the City of Hope. This effort is called Jump for the Cause and more information, pictures, and videos are all available on this website.

Although I have the technical knowledge to have competed to be on this skydive, I decided instead to contribute money and not try out for it. Years ago I was on a 100-person record attempt, and I found that I did not enjoy the kind of pressure that is put on the skydivers. Some people do really well when they are under pressure to perform, but I am not that person. Even if I know I can do something really well, if 200 other people are counting on me to do it right, I don't perform well. Competition does not come naturally to me.

Each of the jumps that the women attempted prior to this successful one must have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each: figure the cost for each participant in the plane, the pilots, ground crew, etc. Each previous jump had to have cost more than $100,000 each. The women paid their own way to Perris, California, bought their jumps and jumpsuit, and contributed as much money as they could each raise for JFTC. Women came from all over the world, from 31 countries, to be involved in this effort.

One of my skydiving buddies, Mary Santangelo, has been on all four of the attempts (and is also a 9-year breast cancer survivor), and the picture above (taken by Karen Lewis, one of the official JFTC photographers) shows Mary waving to the 8 other planes that the time had come for them to climb out. I absolutely love this picture because it looks like she's embracing the sky. (She told me what she was actually doing.) Mary's position is what was called "superfloater" and when she exited the plane, all of the women in the other 8 planes would need to be ready to be flying to their slot as quickly as possible. As you can see from the altimeter, they are at 16,000 feet and would have only about a minute for all those 181 women to get hooked up. For it to count as a record, everyone must have the correct grip and be in the correct position. And it needs to be held for at least 3 seconds. Just look at the picture from the ground of all the planes in formation, with hundreds of women exiting in order to make that first picture happen:

Those little dots that look like confetti are actually skydivers heading for the record. I am so thrilled for this accomplishment to have happened, and for so many of my skydiving friends from around the world to be on it. I didn't feel any need to be one of them in the air, but I am there in my heart and soul. God bless us all!


  1. WoW. That is so impressive. I never thought about the pressure that is involved to make it all work. Now I understand what a major accomplishment it was.

  2. Yeah I know, I can sense that you're not always pressured at all, because you're always cool! Remember when I saw your photo an you're wearing that moss green pants? You looked very cool, woman!

    I appreciate and thank you for commenting on my watery Wednesday DJ.


  3. I think I have changed my mind... I thought that skydiving was something that I would like to try one day,,,UNTIL I envisioned myself in Mary's position, and realized that that beautiful patchwork below her was GROUND... and I got that same queazy feeling I experience when I climb a ladder to prune my apple tree.

    Wonderful brave ladies...wonderful cause. I think I will stick to kayaking though. Thanks for sharing this, DJan.

  4. What an amazing feat, very impressive.
    Sunny :)

  5. too much stress! I couldn't do that either. It does look good though, doesn't it, but now worth the stress, that's my opinion.
    Blessings, Star

  6. Really quite amazing and very brave of them all. Superb pictures and at least the publicity must generate so much more in the fndraising stakes. Let's hope so.

  7. What great photos!!! Everyone of them got my heart racing and my heart expanding!
    According to your figures, it was more expensive to put together the hook-up than they raised - however I know that without the fun they had, that much money wouldn't have been collected for City of Hope and the money spent on skydiving would have been spent anyway.
    Whenever I have engaged in a competition where others are counting on me, my performance is poorer from the anxiety. In fact, Alfie Kohn studied competition, looking for the difference between good and bad competition and found that all competition is "bad". His book is titled, "No Contest" - an excellent read.

  8. Whoops! Once again I failed at arithmetic. When I was showing this posting to my husband I saw how very off I was in my understanding of the ratio between cost and results.
    Can I blame it on my re-arranged brain?

  9. Wonderful photos, and what a great story! I could never do it, but I am appreciative of the brave women that can:)

  10. What an awesome feat, I am totally amazed at their accomplishment. The photos are very impressive, all I can say is Wow!

  11. I think that this is a wonderful post, really. One can look at the photo of all the women together and think “that is neat” but after you explain how much exact cooperation and technique they have to go through then one can say “this blows my mind.” What an achievement!

  12. Thanks for posting these pics, DJan. Great to see our friend Mary, going for the Pink!

  13. DJan, thanks for ALL your support *hugs and love* Mary


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