THE DAILY BLOG OF A WORLD RECORD EVENT
by Bill Purdin

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September 9: 9:00 a.m. -- Final official count is 640 skydives in 24 hours. Jay actually made 641, but voluntarily disqualified one jump (#599) because of an off-field landing. Incidentally, the plane came down but there was no Jay and many people described those roughly 10 minutes as the some of the most scary of their lives. Literally no one knew where Jay was or whether he was injured or OK. It was around 4:15 a.m. that Jay went off the radar screens. He later reported that he exited the plane well ahead of the designated spot and landed in Skydive Greensburg adjoining farm. This is sometimes referred as "Farmer McNasty." Jay hitched a ride with the first passing car and in ten minutes he was jumping back on the plane. He later said to two of the ground crew, "I know you guys were stressing out hard and I'm sorry for that." You can imagine the jubilation when he walked back on to the field (after dropping his rig off at the packing area). And on he went. At the conclusion, he was mobbed by well wishers and media interviews, people were asking his autograph. After about 45 minutes Jay went into his trailer with his son and has not reemerged. Rumor has it that he's asleep in there. No wonder.

Incidentally at or about jump 200 he probably ripped his left quad on landing. In excruciating pain he soldiered on and on for another 20 hours and 440 jumps. It was still bothering him at the end. He said that when he injured it, he thought the attempt was over, but he looked out and saw his ground crew and all the people and said to himself, "I've got to do what I've set out to do." And do it he did ... to say the least.

Here are my final photos of the event:



Jump number 640. It was quite a moment.



Jay was immediately surrounded by the crowds, even as his canopy collapsed.



A husband-wife embrace...



A shared moment with a jubilant son ...



A look at the regional press...



A tired-looking Jay ... do you think?



People crowded in to congratulate him and share in the world record....



Interviews with the press and more hands to shake...



The largest flag ever landed flew in his honor ... and awesome sight ...



... press conference... at which he said he would "Never, ever do it again." Sure, Jay. We believe you.

September 9 -- 7:55 a.m. Saturday: He did it and then some. We don't know for sure yet, he's still jumping, but somewhere between 635 and 645 skydives in 24-hours. How's that? Final update after the celebration!

September 9: The final hours.... 3:58 a.m. -- Jay broke the world record with his 535th jump. He is continuing to jump towards the unreachable ... 650? More soon...



September 8 -- 11:15 p.m. -- 420 skydives done. Jay looks absolutely greeaatt! He's sliding in on the dewey grass to the applause of people (believe it or not) who are still here. At one point there were hundreds watching him. There were also a lot of people watching the packers pack rig after rig. Pictures are difficult now because flash bulbs in Jay's face are not appreciated and without a flash it's hard to get a picture. But I have a few ... see below. There is a lot of excitement about tomorrow morning, but it is going to be a long night. Keep us in mind and check in when you wake up ... lucky you. But still, to be here helping Jay is where I want to be and his hundreds of other friends out there all feel the same way. Sitting here in my camper, I can hear the plane taking off and still the people out there are cheering. As soon as I hit the post button I'll be right back out there with them.

I may post once more as we get closer to dawn. Think 625+!



This is Jay running for a new rig at around 10:30 p.m.



This is John and Yong clowning around between jumps.

September 8 -- 8:15 p.m. -- Nearing 350 jumps and firing on all cylinders. The jumping machine seems to be getting more and more refreshed and full of energy. Many people have remarked that now there's a little more bounce in his step. He seems to be definitely happy and jumping with precision and with elan. When Jay passed 300 jumps the entire dropzone cheered and roared as he swooped in and jumped onto the aircraft. In a few minutes we will be halfway through the event and we are expecting Jay to have around 330 = or - jumps. Well within parameters for a new world record. We have gotten calls from AP, and CNN plus Fox and NBC. What will they do? Who knows. But if they knew this highly skilled, indefatigible man's humilty and kindness, they would hold him up to world as an example of what a great difference one man can make. And, where's The New York Times when you need them?

Here are some pictures I taken over the past few hours for you...



The life saving CYPRES 2 is featured on windblades donated by the manufacturer as Jay lands his 286th time...



Bob is the kind of guy who shows appreciation to his customers....



Jay comes in again, but the light is fading now as we approach the halfway mark.



Selection.com is one of our major sponsors and they give Jay a lot of nice canopies...



And on and on we go....



In order to achieve the times we need the planes have to be flown aggressively. This is a typical straight down dive after Jay exit's. Yes, it is scary to watch ... well, the first 100 times anyway.



Just a left over from the 300th jump celebration. Did he forget to take it off, or does he really like it?



Jay lands so fast that the catchers have to chase him down.



While the attending crowds had to stay on the sidelines the ground crew ground could get a lot closer while congratulating Jay on 300 jumps in 10.5 hours.



Bob of course cheered everyone on...



Some people needed no encouragement...



Still getting darker...



My friend Richard who helped time and record the event while I went to do this blog for you...

September 8 -- It's 8:15 p.m. as I finish this installment. It's really getting dark. In the next segment you'll see the lights and some of the night skydives. Remember, we will be doing this all night until 8 a.m. tomorrow. Stay tuned. I'll try to make the next entry around 10:30 p.m.

more photos? click here


September 8 -- 4:45 p.m. -- Now, with eight hours of jumping behind us, if we were on target with 25 jumps per hour you'd expect 200 jumps, but no, we've got over 230! We were starting to think that Jay looked a little pale and were pushing him to drink more and communicate a little more ... he gets into a "zone," you know. But when that didn't do it, Bob Dougherty, Air Boss, stopped Jay for a para-medic checkup. (See photos below). He checked out really well and, personally I think it's because he DID listen to us, he just didn't TELL us he was listening. Now, you can be sure he will let us know. He absolutely hated the pause in the action. Pilot-to-pilot there are variations in the speed of each jump and as the plane burns up fuel it goes faster and faster. But we are watching the times closely now. 2:24 is the minimum to achieve our result. We are right on that edge now with this plane and pilot. Oh, and it's starting to cool off a little, which is really nice.

Here are some pictures...



Jay's parachute knocked down a windblade...



You can see he looked a little peaked here. Can you blame us for worrying?











If you look closely you can see Bob giving Jay a piece of paper ... it's an honary C-License after he made the requisite 200 jumps. But... Jay ignored him and took off. Bob made his take the next time but that's the last we saw of the license.







Yong is very careful with her friend and mentor.



Doesn't he look happy that we made him stop for a checkup?



But Bob says, "Safety first, then the world record."



Everyone agrees ... things are looking up now.

More in a few hours...




September 8 -- 2:15 p.m. -- After six hours Jay's got 161 jumps, ahead of world record pace. He looks fresh. The only things he's asked for are water and chapstick. All of his landings have been smooth except one sit landing, but with thousands of tandems he handled that easily. No more line twists since the rigs packed kast night were used. His exit-to-footfall times remain consistent as mentioned before. Food has started to appear on the dz, which the ground crew enjoys. But, it is hot, really hot in the sun. The times are now in the 2:15 to 2:18 range consistently and the pilots are really getting the job done. Here are a few photos ..



Hot and good-humored, the ground crew presses on...



Bob Dougherty, DZ owner, submits to another interview ....



Jay is interviewed between jumps by Jennie Renuvitch... a four second interview....



How many jumps is that?



Landing number 150 .....



Landing number 150 (#2) .....



Landing number 160 ....



Even the newscasters, like Jennie, were in a good mood...



One of the many news copters safely circling outside the dropzone area....



Jay's helmet from the other side. : ))


More in a couple of hours. I just heard we are nearing 250 ... there will be a celebration at 300...



September 8 -- 12:45 p.m. -- Nearing 130 jumps all is well. Jay is maintaining his exit-to-footfall time like a machine. The plane switch from Pac-750 to Porter is not working out. The times have dropped from 2:10 or better (best was 1:55) to 2:50. Expect a change back to the other Pac-750 ahead of schedule. Plenty of news and media present. We are expecting CBS soon. Jay looks good, but to be honest, I know he likes a faster pace. He is landing and sort of walking to the next rig. All crews are rotating well, and there is a lot of excitment. More photos in a while.

September 8 -- 10:30 a.m. -- Nearing 70 jumps. Some of the early packjobs had line twists, but the times started at 2:20 (two minutes, 20 seconds) and dropped to 1:55 (the fastest one). Jay appears serius but relaxed, working hard. The race is to beat the plane to the ground. Jay's times from exit to footfall are always in the 40 second to 45 second range. The weather is beuatiful with little or no wind. He has been sliding in on the wet grass very easily. Now the grass is drying out and we've gone through our first plane/pilot change. The first few runs with the new pilot were slow (2:50, 2:50) but as I left to do this blog the last one was 2:20. We are definitely on target for a new record, as of now, and to complete the 600+ skydives. But, it's early and there are still 22 hours to go. Here are some photos from this morning....



Jay going over some details at 5:45 a.m.



Jay's wife, Vivian and his son, Evan, giving him a warm send off.



Phil dikscussing the first shift as the sun comes up.



Jay and the minister who offered a prayer.



Stuff in Jay's hand.



The morning organizational meeting,



Yong and Ki Bang the first rig and box-step team.



The first 23 rigs are ready and waiting.



Does an interview....



and another and another and another...



I rode back in the first plane to pick up Jay,



I get off and Jay gets on...



Thumbs up, while Norm Kent photographs



The first exit....



and the first deployment....



and the SECOND takeoff. (More to follow in a couple of hours....)



September 8: 5:45 a,m. -- If Jay wasn't the first one up today, he was one of them. The weather is good. No ground fog. So, at 5:45 a.m. when this blog began this morning, everything is on track and ready for the first exit at 2100 feet at 8 a.m. sharp. I looked in on him briefly and he was having a quiet breakfast with his son, Evan.

September 7: Jay started the day at 5:00 a.m. with a reserve repack for a friend who came to support his effort tomorrow. Then it was three interviews with media sources, then a meeting with pilots who have devised a plan to cut up to 20 seconds off the flight time of each jump, then he disappeared into the hanger. He told me, "I like to stay busy. You know ... nervious energy?" Yes, we know, Jay.

Here are some photos from today:



The hands that repacked the reserve that saved Jays life, yesterday evening.



Spot, he came with Norm Kent and did a great job.



One of the "safety" crew that help Jay in and out of the plane and give him a final gear check prior to exit. These guys are often in Zero G conditions and this duty is not for the faint of heart. The rides down are really controlled crash landings. One every 2:15 minutes.



One of our pilots. They fly for two hours, making highly aggressive take offs and landings every 2.5 minutes or so. They leave the plane soaked in sweat and exhausted.



Ki Bang Lee, who manages the box that Jay steps into the Pac-750 on. He has to rush out to the plane, dodging the incoming wing, place the box-step as Jay runs in at full speed. Any mistake in placement can result in a fall or injury. Once Jay is aboard, Ki Bang ducks to the tarmac as the plane's tail rushes by over his head.



The most famous and successful freefall photographer in skydiving: Norman Kent.



The rig he wears on his head is over 30 pounds. "Smile!"



This is one of Norman's flights. He is in the second plane photographing as Jay jumps and deploys.



As Jay lands, the ground crews removes his snap-off rigs. He runs into the next waiting just as he gets back on the plane. Time from landing to entering the plane: about five seconds.



His chest strap is off, and in another second he will unclip his leg straps and running out of the harness at full tilt



Another shot of Jay jumping our and deploying at 2100 feet. You can see that he is already flying the canopy, well before full inflation,



Jay and his son, Evan, after the jumps of the day.



Bob Dougherty on his beloved tractor. Bob mowed the lawn to make a move to a new landing area easier for everyone.



One of the many articles now appearing about this record attempt.

Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. the jumps begin. Keep watching here and we will post updates throughout the day.

Incidentally, between today and yesterday Jay has made over 70 skydives to practice and to work at the drop zone. Not too shabby for a Wednesday/Thursday combination. And tomorrow, well, let's just say the numbers are going WAY up!

September 6: Sorry no photos tonight. The night practice was very exciting but difficult to photograph. I have some "night shot footage," but we're having some techinical challenges. Soon to be worked out. But Jay made eleven skydives in 25 minutes, thirty one seconds. He also had a cutaway malfunction on #5. Apparently he unstowed the toggles a little too early and caused a twist up, that at that deployment altitude had to go. He landed and in fact had a good time on that jump. There were the expected ground crew problems at night of seeing the risers speeding by and accurately grabbing them as Jay runs out, of people being in the correct positions, and of the canopy landings being a little less predictable. The pilot also was working on maintaining a high intensity of aggressiveness at night. But all in all it was an exciting evening of great jumps and masterful canopy work and great teamwork. Oh, yes and Jay's family arrived tonight and everyone went out to dinner at a nearby Mexican restuarant. Tomorrow offers more daytime practice and a lengthy strategy session with all participants. And, then well then it will be then. Hasta manana.

September 5: It was quite a day. Jay taught another USPA tandem course and made several tandems and then gathered the crew for 21 "practice jumps" in 49 minutes and 26 seconds, averaging 2:24 per jump. That is within the parameters of a new world record if the pace can be maintained for the 24 hours. So, the skills, the crew, the planes the equipment and most importantly the only man in the world who can do it ... are all in place. Here are some photos from today:



Jay looks out and down from 2100 feet.



and then he jumps and pulls...



... right out the door. (Above photos by Zing Engstrom).



Jay teaches a course as though nothing happened. 21 jumps in 49 minutes not withstanding.



Jay works on the 25 event rigs as Doug and Sara of Skydive Greensburg look on.



Yong and Lee work tirelessly on Jay's behalf to get everything ready.



Jay Stokes dons his new world record jumpsuit featuring all of the sponsors.



Feet down at 39 (minutes):24 (seconds)...



the rig is off at 39:25 ...



JAy runs for the next rig at 39:26...



39:26:50



New rig is on at 41:00 ... and he's back on the place at 46:30:00 ...

September 4
Jay has been working at Skydive Greenburg, as usual, full time, which for Jay means 5:30 a.m. to well after sunset. Today he concluded a USPA/Strong Tandem Instructor Certification Course, several AFF sessions of ground training and category progression jumps. He also conducted five or more tandem jumps, oversaw the conversions of 25 Javelin rigs to the specifications of his upcoming world record attempt, performed his duties as manager of the drop zone, and at the end of the day took care of trash and supplies for the facility. He sat down around 9:00 p.m. for a dinner of tofu and vegetables prepared by a friend. After that he met with "Zing," of the pilots and then quietly retired to sleep. He has plans for a light workout in the morning and full day of preparations for September 8. Skydive Greensburg is closed tomorrow, for one day off, or Jay would undoubtably be working again. Here are a few pictures of the day:


Jay working in the training hanger (above and below).



Some of the inventory of 25 rigs specially rigged for making 600 skydives in 24 hours.



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