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Adam Sotelo, KSL TV

What happens when you drop a cellphone from 13,200 feet?

By Alex Cabrero, KSL TV | Posted - Jul 21st, 2018 @ 12:15pm



TOOELE — It can be a bit intimidating hanging out with skydivers for the first time. It’s an adrenaline-fueled atmosphere that, initially, seems like a sport for the young.

Until you meet Patrick Wiggins.

“I am the oldest skydiver out here,” said Wiggins, with a smile. “Literally, I’m kind of like the grandpa out here.”

Wiggins is 69 years old. He has completed 994 jumps to date. And he has one very cool story even the young jumpers can’t believe.

“They’re all thinking it’s funny and they’re thinking it’s wild,” said Wiggins.

Last week, Wiggins went up again at Skydive Utah in Tooele County. Only, this time, his camera caught something he had never done before.

After jumping out of the airplane and only a few seconds into his free fall, Wiggins rolled onto his back and saw something slip out of his shorts pocket.

“When I saw it go away, it was, 'OK, a piece of paper,' ” he said.

However, after he landed, he realized right away what he saw was not a piece of paper.

“I didn’t even think it was my phone until I got on the ground and I’m looking for my phone and then I’m going… ‘Oh, wait a minute,’” said Wiggins.

He used another computer to turn on his “find my phone” feature. Of course, knowing he was about 13,200 feet in the air, he thought there was no way it would still be working. That is until he saw the signal.

“I was so relieved when that little thing— it’s alive! At least it was transmitting,” said Wiggins.

Patrick Wiggins saw something fly out of his shorts pocket while in the middle of a skydiving jump at 13,200 feet. It turned out to be his cell phone, which he later found on the ground without a scratch. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Wiggins)

He found his phone in some grass close to the landing zone. It was still working and didn’t have a single scratch.

“Well, that is cool. I don’t have to buy a new one,” he said with another laugh.

Wiggins, being the amateur scientist he is, tried to explain what happened rationally.

“It does not have a high terminal velocity,” he said. “Low mass, high surface area. So you’re going to have a lot of drag for a small amount of mass.”

He also knows the simplest explanation just might be one young people will understand.

“Maybe it came from Hogwarts? I don’t know,” he said with another one of his distinguished laughs. “They put a protection spell on it.”

Editor's note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect Wiggins' quote to include the word "high" before "terminal velocity."

Alex Cabrero

KSL Weather Forecast

Updated: Tuesday October 23, 2018 10:39 pm