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A 42,431 ft jump from sky: Kerala man sets world record in skydiving in US

Jithin Vijayan of Kozhikode who has set a new world record in skydiving. Image Credit: Special Arrangement

There are no avenues in the world where Keralites haven’t stamped their talent. In the latest, a Kerala man has set a world record in skydiving, which was once considered an adventure sport of only Westerners. Kozhikode native Jithin Vijayan grabbed international attention when he recently set a world record in skydiving by jumping from a height of 42,431 feet. This 41-year-old entrepreneur did the daring act carrying an Indian flag.

Jithin broke the record when he jumped off a Cheyenne 400 LS aircraft at a height of 42,431 feet from sea level above Whiteville, West Tennessee in the United States.

The daring jump has led Jithin to secure two world records and two Asian records in skydiving. By jumping from a height of 42, 431feet, he set a new world altitude record, that is, with a flag and another for free fall time (the time between the jump and the opening of the parachute). The records have been approved by Guinness World Records. Besides this, he also made it to the Asian records for the highest altitude in skydiving and for the maximum distance travelled without a parachute approved by World Air Sports Federation.

Recounting his journey in skydiving, Jithin shares that becoming a skydiver was never a plan in his life. “From my childhood days, I have been trying different kinds of sports but I realised that I was never content with one sport. In 2016, I tried my hand in paragliding and for this, I used to travel during weekends to Pune. I continued paragliding till 2017 but had to discontinue it due to personal reasons. But, it was in 2019 that I did a tandem skydiving and got hooked onto it,” Jithin told “Open Digest“.

Pursuing his interest further, Jithin did the accelerated free fall skydiving training offered by the United States Parachute Association in Spain last year. He shares, “ The Accelerated Free Fall method is the fastest way to learn skydiving and consists of 7 levels where two instructors jump with the student from a height of 15,000 feet, holding their hand and foot. During a 50-second free fall covering approximately 9000 feet, the trainers guide the student. The parachute opens at an altitude of 6000 feet. Two instructors are there for the first three levels and one instructor for the next four levels. To progress, students must complete up to seven levels, with the sixth and seventh levels requiring the student to jump first and the instructor will follow and give instructions”.

However, he says, even after successfully completing all seven levels, individuals are eligible to jump solo, but they do not obtain the license. “ They need to complete another 18  jumps, including five coaching jumps. An online examination is also there. Once they have completed a total of 25 jumps and pass the test, they can apply for a skydiving license from organisations like United States Parachute Association (USPA) or British Parachute Association (BPA) A License. The USPA is the most commonly pursued license, and Skydivers have the freedom to go skydiving anywhere in the world after obtaining the A licence.”

Speaking about his record-breaking jump, he says, “I never thought that I would make it but I was finally successful. I must say that skydiving is one such sport that everybody should try at least once in their life where you feel the real power of the earth’s gravity.” Jithin, who is currently residing in Kochi is planning to do a mid-air formation with the skydivers of the Malayalee Skydivers, a WhatsApp group of Malayalee skydivers.

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