Above: The 18-way record team celebrates its accomplishment. Photo by Ehrin Huhn.
Wes Sandler and Michael Hoover had one goal for Memorial Day weekend: Break the Ohio state wingsuit large-formation (no-grip) record.
The idea for the event developed after fun jumpers recognized a general lack of available wingsuit events at Aerohio Skydiving Center in Ashland. Drop zone owner Sherry Butcher showed her full support with creating such events, and she was particularly interested in hosting a wingsuit record. Hoover was the catalyst in jump-starting the operations and contacted Sandler, with whom he had been mulling over the idea of working together and building a team to break wingsuit records across the states. They just needed an opportunity. With experience they obtained during previous record events and over 6,000 combined wingsuit flights, Hoover and Sandler would prove their capability of leading a team to success.
Friday kicked off with smaller-sized-group practice jumps with a focus on safe and efficient flying, and they set a new record the very first day. This bested the previous 9-way Ohio state record set in 2018 at Start Skydiving in Middletown. The following day, four additional participants joined Sandler’s group and raised the hype to build bigger and better. In just two jumps, they set another record. A total of 18 participants flew together in a diamond formation, on-level and in their gridded slots. Alexander Lemaire beautifully captured the success from the sky as he orbited the formation in his wingsuit. Event photographer Ehrin Huhn captured the happenings from the ground.
“I didn’t expect for it to come together so quickly,” stated Sandler. “Everyone showed up on time, eager to work to get the record, and the energy remained high, as did the expectation we could do something great together.”
Jumpers set the Ohio ungripped wingsuit record. Photo by Alexander Lemaire.
With the ultimate goal achieved, focus shifted to vertical wingsuit fun jumps. But the records weren’t over. Sunday would bring about even more accomplishments. Since several participants were Parachutists Over Phorty Society (POPS) members, they quickly formulated an idea to set the first state and national POPS wingsuit large-formation record. The group showed great flying ability on their first attempt, and after review of the footage, the 9-way record was confirmed. This record ties the current world record set in 2009 in Australia.
Following the event, Hoover remarked, “My overall impression was that it went fantastic. I have never been to another record event that ran so smoothly. We all came from many different states and countries and rocked this event!”
Sherry Butcher and the staff at Aerohio provided exceptional accommodations and overall support for the team. For Sandler, it was a special treat setting so many records in the state in which he was born yet had not visited since he was a year old.
“The stoke is high surrounding the success of this event,” Sandler said, “and we would love to translate that into more record attempts throughout the country.”
Ehrin Huhn | C-51796
St. Johns, Michigan