December 12, 2015
Marco Wiederkehr is officially the world’s fastest skydiver. He won the Speed Skydiving event here at the FAI World Air Games and set a new world record while doing it.
“I set the new world record on my first jump,” he said after the competition was over. “I hit 533km/h. That’s 140 metres a second, or a kilometre in 6.5 seconds.”
He added: “There are only six people in the world who have gone faster than 500km/h in speed skydiving and they are all here.”
Speed Skydivers start at 4,000m where they exit the aircraft. They then go head-down to accelerate as much as possible. They are timed over 1,000m, between 2,700m and 1,700m, before they decelerate and deploy their parachute normally at about 1,000m.
“Normal speed for a belly-down skydiver is 220km/h,” explained Marco. “We change our body position to be as streamlined as possible, like an arrow.”
Each speed skydiver carries two small measuring devices that measure barometric pressure. From that, speed can be calculated. The official time for each jump is an average of the two devices.
“There were 15 speed skydivers invited to the World Air Games,” Marco explained, “And it has gone well.”
A niche discipline for a decade, speed skydiving has only recently been sanctioned by the FAI as an official discipline, which means records can now be officially recorded and held.
So what does it feel like to travel through the air like a bullet?
“You only feel it in the braking zone. In the speed zone you just feel a little pressure on the shoulders and the top of your head. Other than that it is very still.”
He added: “Speed skydiving is all in the head, it is a mental thing. You have to concentrate on nothing and just be. In the air you must react before it has happened, not after.”
By Ed Ewing
Photo: Marcus King / FAI Media Team
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