Daredevils reach dizzy heights, set new world record

KATHMANDU: In what is said to be a new world skydiving record, a Fishtail Air chopper dropped three skydivers from 21,000 feet on Wednesday.

According to the organisers, the operation was carried out from Fishtail Air’s AS350 helicopter that took off with a skydiving team from Syangboche airport and which flew to a height of 23,000 feet before dropping from 21,000 feet on the right air layer on the morning of October 28.

World skydiving champion Wendy Smith of New Zealand, Global Angels Ambassador and tandem master Tom Noonan and Indian Air Force wing commmander Jai Kishan made a successful landing at Gorak Shep, Kala Patthar Plateau lying at an altitude of 17,192 feet (5243m), right beside Mt Everest. This is believed to be the highest skydiving stunt performed over the highest drop zone in world.

Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure successfully completed the Everest Skydive 2009 programme. Earlier, such jumps over Shyangboche were also made from Tara Air’s Pilatus Porter aircraft, flown by Capt Jack Sparrow (UK) and Praful Baidya (Nepal). Capt Sparrow, an experienced pilot, has performed more than 4,000 lifts (flights for skydiving) for skydivers in Europe and is preparing to launch a skydiving club in Thailand which will be the first in Asia. As a continuation of the Everest Skydive 2008, the Everest Skydive 2009 program was organised by Explore Himalaya with the help of Nepal Tourism board to promote Nepal Tourism Year 2011. During the event, all the skydivers sported the logo of Nepal Tourism Year 2011 on their jumpsuits. The visuals of the skydiving event will be distributed worldwide.

Prior to this event, seven skydivers from the Explore Himalya Skydiving team had performed solo and tandem jumps at Shyangboche (12,350) on October 16-17.

On October 16, five members skydived from height of 25,000 feet. Tom Noonan (USA), Ian Bishop (Australia) and Jai Kishan (India) made solo jumps. In the second group , Wendy Smith (New Zealand) jumped solo while Ganesh Pandey (Nepal) made a tandem jump with tandem master Tom Noonan (USA).

As the continuation of the Everest Skydive 2009, Explore Himalaya is planning to establish skydiving as a prominent tourism product of Nepal. More such events shall be launched to mark Nepal Tourism Year 2011. According to the organisers, very soon skydiving tests and commercial operations will be performed in Pokhara. “With support from all concerned, we are planning to organise a team of Nepalese civilian skydivers for aerial events to be held in 2011,” said Suman Pandey, team leader and convener of Everest Skydive 2009 and also chief executive officer of Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure.