HALO Skydive 2009, post-jump group shot!
Alabama state record parachute jump on 20 March 2009 in Elberta, AL at Emerald Coast Skydiving Center (Horak Airfield). This was a state record for the highest "Tandem Parachute" skydive (Instructor and passenger connected together), highest "Wingman" skydive (winged jumpsuits that allow the skydiver to glide in freefall, previously called birdmen) and highest solo civilian skydive for the state of Alabama. We may have broken other regional records but this is not confirmed.
At 4:20pm on Friday, 20 March 2009, the below listed skydivers exited a Twin turbo prop Dehavilland "Super" Twin Otter at 29,400 feet above ground level over Horak Field to set the above state records. The outside air temperature at that altitude was -20 F. The initial freefall speeds for the tandem pair and solo jumps accelerated to near 200mph in the upper less dense air but decelerated to about 115mph as we approached the lower opening altitudes. Due to the extreme high altitude, oxygen was required since the useful consciousness at the exit altitude is about 1 minute. In addition, 30 minutes of pre-breathing 100% oxygen prior to the jump is required to decrease the nitrogen concentration in the body to prevent what scuba divers call the "bends" (nitrogen bubbles in the tissues or blood stream). After a complete training session with all the jumpers we were fitted with oxygen masks, helmets and bailout oxygen bottles. We boarded the Twin Otter about 45 minutes before the record jump and connected our oxygen system to the console in the aircraft. The climb to altitude took about 35 minutes. During the climb we monitored each other for any problems under the supervision of the load master. At 28,000 feet we switched to our bailout bottles and disconnected from the aircraft oxygen console. When we reached our record altitude we positioned near the door and exited in the following order: wingman, tandem pair with videographer then solo jumpers. The total freefall time for the tandem pair was about 2 minutes and 15 seconds at an opening altitude of 5,500 feet.
We did have live TV news coverage on the ground by WEAR TV out of Pensacola, FL.
The record jump was organized by Jim Horak and the oxygen system was provided by Kevin Holbrook owner of "HALOjumper.com" out of Tennessee and Mississippi. Kevin and myself were former members of the US Army Special Forces or "Green Berets" and prior military freefall jumpers. In later years we served as medical officers for the Special Operations command. Kevin started his company to make the high altitude jumps available to civilian skydivers and later tandem passengers.
Emerald Coast Skydiving Center is the second oldest continuously operating civilian Drop Zone in the US. It was originally started by my father, retired Col. Jim Horak, Sr. MD Evans, also a former member of the US Army Special Forces, along with his wife Nancy run the business now. We previously set the record for the largest freefall formation in Alabama over 10 years ago with 40 skydivers. The drop zone is also home for military parachute operations for the Army, Navy, Marines and Airforce.
The following people were involved in this record jump:
1) Kevin Holbrook (Load master and supplier of the oxygen system).
2) Jim Horak, Jr. (Tandem Instructor and record organizer) (Commercial pilot)
3) Kay Taylor (Tandem passenger and frequent tandem rider at Emerald Coast)
4) Jason Read (Freefall videographer for the tandem)
5) Axel Grisett (Wingman)
6) Nate Horner (solo jumper and naval aviator)
7) Kevin King (solo jumper and retired naval flight officer)
8) Kim Radford (solo jumper)
Travis Creel and Timber McKinney
Support personnel from HALOjumper.com:
Ben Crowell (also a HALO tandem instructor)
Neagel Ledet (also a HALO jumper and safety officer)
Support staff from Emerald Coast Skydiving Center:
MD and Nancy Evans
Becky Stewart (Officer manager)