Florida Skydiving Team Shatters HALO Record by Jumping from Largest U.S. Balloon at 38,000 Feet

Published 09/29/2023, 2:40 PM EDT

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Under the vast cerulean sky of New Mexico, a daring group of adventurers from Florida have recently etched their names into the annals of skydiving history. On a crisp Thursday morning, the team of five gathered at the Stapp Parade Ground, ready to challenge gravity in a way never seen before. At the forefront of this epic endeavor was Larry Connor, a 73-year-old entrepreneur and astronaut with striking achievements. 

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The Alpha 5 Project, led by Larry, was prepared to take their leap of faith at the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI). This incredible venture was not just about setting records or pushing the boundaries of skydiving. The group had aimed to achieve the highest HALO (High Altitude, Low Open) skydive ever recorded, with an astounding motive that left people in admiration. 

A fearless skydiving endeavor

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Larry Connor graced the forefront of this epic dive and was also a part of the first-ever private mission to the International Space Station (ISS), Axiom-1. He spearheaded the Alpha 5 team, consisting of elite members including Brandon Daugherty, a USAF pararescueman and project lead. Another USAF pararescueman, Rob Dieguez, alongside former USAF Airmen Chris Lais and Jimmy Petrolia, were the others who accompanied them. 

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Completing this remarkable crew, balloon pilot Shane Wallace and Ooxygentechnician Tad Smith dedicatedly joined the diving trip. The record-breaking feat began with the team taking off in a breathtaking ascent in the largest balloon ever manufactured in the U.S. Although the ride had a colossal structure of nearly 115 feet in height, it rose to an awe-inspiring altitude of 38,000 feet. With a slow but steady beginning, the skydiving event and its noble intention witnessed a journey that seemed to touch the very edge of space. 

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Soaring with bravery for a noble cause

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From a dizzying height, the Alpha 5 team took off as they exited the enormous balloon, forming a gripping five-person formation in the sky. This audacious maneuver was visualized at 14 miles to the east/southeast from the launch site. Guinness World Records had their official observer on-site, bearing witness to history in the making. Admirably, the victorious Alpha 5 Project was initially started with a noble purpose. 

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The daredevil skydive was an effort to raise funds, with the goal of gaining one million dollars. They dedicated the eccentric fund to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), an organization that provides educational support. Assisting children from preschool to college, they help the surviving families of Special Operations Forces members lost in the line of duty. Additionally, SOWF also offers financial assistance to injured Special Operations personnel, as well as the children of all Medal of Honor recipients.

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Compared to recreational skydiving events that involve jumping from about 15000 feet and opening the parachute at 3,000 feet, this charitable session marked excellence. The HALO skydive took place at twice the altitude, with the skydiver opening the parachute when merely 800 feet above the ground. Reflecting on their breathtaking play, Larry Connor and the Alpha 5 team have set a record in history. The leap from the edge of space is undoubtedly accurate in inspiring future generations to aim higher and reach further. 

Watch This Story: 56-Year-Old Englishman Skydives for Charity Just Months After a Life Saving Kidney Transplant

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Written by:

Sanchari Bhaduri

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Sanchari Bhaduri is a fresh Sports Viral Moments writer at EssentiallySports. Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from IGNOU, she embarked on her content creation career in 2015 with freelance projects. Her previous role involved her serving as a Content Manager for Reddit.
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Edited by:

Priyadarshini Ajay

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