Montco res­i­dent helps team set new sky­div­ing bench­mark

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Mont­gomery County na­tive Jack Ron­al­ter re­cently par­tic­i­pated in two world record-set­ting aerial for­ma­tions with an in­ter­na­tional team of sky­divers in Ari­zona.

Led by an or­ga­nizer from France, the team of 219 sky­divers from 28 na­tions worked to­gether for a week to cre­ate sev­eral in­tri­cate geo­met­ric pat­terns, which they formed by hold­ing on to each other while free-fall­ing through the sky.

Af­ter join­ing to make the for­ma­tion, the sky­divers had to quickly sep­a­rate in time to open their para­chutes and land.

Ron­al­ter, 51, of Blue Bell, is an elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer and pri­vate pi­lot. He has com­pleted more than 6,500 sky­dives.

The first world record was achieved by form­ing not one, but two, dis­tinct for­ma­tions dur­ing the same jump. The group jumped from a to­tal of 10 planes, fly­ing to­gether in close for­ma­tion at 19,500 feet, and rac­ing the sec­onds to make the first for­ma­tion.

As soon as that for­ma­tion was com­pleted, the leader in the cen­ter sig­naled to break the for­ma­tion and cre­ate a sec­ond, dif­fer­ent one.

All of this had to be ac­com­plished be­fore the sig­nal came for the jumpers to sep­a­rate as far as pos­si­ble from one an­other to get clear airspace be­fore open­ing their para­chutes.

The sec­ond, even more spec­tac­u­lar world record oc­curred two days later when 217 jumpers from the team ac­com­plished

three dif­fer­ent for­ma­tions on the same jump.

Each jump of this kind re­quires mul­ti­ple at­tempts to per­fect the for­ma­tions. Ev­ery sky­dive is

recorded by sev­eral videog­ra­phers who jump with the team and record the en­tire se­quence from above and below. Judges on the ground im­me­di­ately re­view the videos, like re­play um­pires in a base­ball game, to check the per­fec­tion of each for­ma­tion and, in this

case, to cer­tify that the re­quire­ments for a World Record have been met.

The judges then for­ward the videos to the Fédéra­tion Aéro­nau­tique In­ter­na­tionale’s World Sports Fed­er­a­tion, lo­cated in Lau­sanne, Switzer­land, for of­fi­cial world record cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.


In this photo shot in late Oc­to­ber in Ari­zona, a for­ma­tion of planes soars over­head as sky­divers work to get in po­si­tion for a world record­set­ting for­ma­tion.


More than 200 sky­divers, in­clud­ing Blue Bell res­i­dent Jack Ron­al­ter cre­ate a geo­met­ric for­ma­tion high in the Ari­zona sky.

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