World skydiving team attempts record jump

Skydivers from 31 countries assembled Wednesday in northeastern Thailand to attempt a world record for a freefall formation that involves coming together in midair to form a 400-person snowflake.

The jump scheduled for later in the day is one of two record attempts by the group, which calls itself the World Team. Another 960-person mass drop into Bangkok 's yet-to-be-opened new international airport will take place Saturday.

The record attempts are being organized to honor Thailand 's King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch, who celebrates 60 years on the throne this year. The Royal Thai Air Force provided the group with the C-130 Hercules planes being used for the jumps.

The skydivers were to wear red, white or blue suits the colors of the Thai flag for Wednesday's jump, which was to include three attempts. The jumpers were divided among five planes that were instructed to open their rear cargo doors at 24,000 feet (7,315 meters), giving the divers about eight seconds to evacuate.

"Some of them have to cover a kilometer of air space to get where they want to be," said Kevin Gibson, a spokesman for the group.

Video and still footage were to be taken from the air to allow judges on the ground to determine if the jump had succeeded in setting a new world record.

The World Team, an informal association of skydivers from around the globe, holds the current record for a formation jump of 357 skydivers over Takhli, Thailand in February 2004, and a mass freefall jump of 672 skydivers over Bangkok in January 2004.

Jumpers on the World Team range in age from 19 to 64, and include one veteran of 22,000 jumps, organizers said, reports the AP.


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