Montco resident helps team set new skydiving benchmark
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.