This Thanksgiving holiday, women from all over the country and the world gathered at Skydive Arizona, in Eloy, AZ to attempt to build the world’s largest vertical formation of all women. SGT Jen Schaben represented the Golden Knights by joining 40 other women to build this record. Ladies started arriving on Monday, to jump at the warmup camps on Tuesday and Wednesday. The organizers split the participants into two groups of 22 to start the jumping off. The warmups were important for the organizers to see the flying abilities of each jumper, to make sure everyone could fly and break off safely, and to put people in the right slots to give the formation the best chance to build. It was especially exciting to see the two groups perform, as the current record was a formation with 20 fliers, which meant that even the warmup jumps were bigger than the record being broken.
Once the warmup days were over, the actual attempts began with a try for a 39 way. Over the next two days, the organizers rotated people in and out of the record attempts based on performance. Those not on each record attempt jumped in a smaller group so their flying could continue to be assessed, and when ready, could be added to the record. Each jump improved with the changes throughout the formation, and with everyone getting more experience in their own slot.
The second day got off to a great start, and each jump got closer and closer to the full formation building. Finally, on the sunset load, with a few more changes to the line up, the participants went up to try for a 41 way, the largest attempt so far, and one that the organizers felt the group was ready for. The jump went off beautifully, and everyone knew the record had been broken. Once everyone got to the ground, there was celebration throughout the landing area, joined in by all the spectators who had gathered outside to watch the formation build from the ground.
The energy throughout the entire event was amazing as everyone pulled together in order to accomplish the mission. It is also an acknowledgement of the rapidly growing ability level throughout the sport of skydiving, that the previous record was more than doubled in only two years. The Golden Knights were proud to be a part of this great event, and to represent the Army and the United States in such a notable achievement.