Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
Press releaseOTTOWA, ILL. -- Two Utahns took part in setting a new skydiving head-down formation world record in Chicago during the city's Summerfest Event.
Dusty Hanks, iFLY indoor skydiving instructor, and Gunnar Jeannette were two of 108 skydivers to accomplish the feat. They have spent several years of hard work and commitment of time, effort and money to shatter the previous record of 69 skydivers, set in 2007. Those participating in the world record included organizers and "superstars" of the sport, as well as athletes from around the U.S. and world such as France, Spain, Brazil, Australia and Canada.
On July 31, 2009, the Guinness Book of World records witness the triumph and record defeating the previous record. The series of attempts to make the 108-way formation started with warm-ups and practice jumps earlier that week. Friday morning, the jumpers arrived early at the drop zone, ready to go to work. After five close attempts, the group was able to accomplish their goal on the final jump of the day. They used five Super Otter planes to carry the 108 jumpers, complete with oxygen masks, to the altitude of 17,500 feet above the earth. Once exiting the planes, the jumpers had roughly 40 seconds to build the complete formation before breaking away to begin opening parachutes and the high-traffic decent to the landing area.
After the sixth attempt, the organizers and the judges from Guinness reviewed the video and photographs to confirm the new world record. Thanks to the #freeflyworldrecord hashtag on Twitter.com, friends and family of the skydivers were even able to follow along during the day from around the world to keep up with the efforts of their loved ones in the air.
The organizers planned this attempt for more than two years. The tryouts to participate in the world record attempts were held at various locations and drop zones around the United State during the past months. Hundreds of skydivers attended the tryout including 108 men and women, and 47 alternates. Among the main organizers of the event were Rook Nelson, owner of Skydive Chicago, as well as Eli Thompson, Mike Swanson and Jon DeVore of the Red Bull Air Force, and Olav Zipser and Omar Alhegelan, world renowned Godfathers of this style of skydiving - dubbed ‘freeflying' by those in the sport.
When asked how he felt to participate in the world record Hanks stated, "It was an amazing experience all the way through the process. Just to be able to work with the very best athletes in the sport was a privilege, but to be able to be a part of this chapter of skydiving history has meant the world to me and my family. It has been a long road for us while working toward gaining the skills and experience to be a part of something like this. It's something I'll never forget."
Hanks is a flight instructor at IFLY Utah located in Ogden, an indoor skydiving wind tunnel that simulates freefall. He is also a member of the Rockwell Airtime Skydiving Team and is sponsored by Tricked Out Accessories. He has just over 5,000 skydives and 300 + hours in the wind tunnel, as well as approximately 200 B.A.S.E. jumps. Hanks lives in North Salt Lake, Utah with his wife and two boys.
Jeannette has approximately 1,200 skydives and 130 + B.A.S.E. jumps. He is also a professional sports car driver who has competed in many races around the United States. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.