Skydiving record attempt unsuccessful

Kamloops skydiver returns home without the record, but still values the experience

Adam Williams, Sports Editor Ω

Nick Byers plays the student while training a new tandem instructor over the Kamloops airport in 2010. Photo courtesy Nick Byers

Nick Byers plays the student while training a new tandem instructor over the Kamloops airport in 2010. Photo courtesy Nick Byers

For most people, landing safely on the ground is all it would take to consider a skydive jump a success. But not so for TRU’s Nick Byers, who spent the first part of December in Eloy, Arizona, attempting to set a world record in sequential skydiving. For him, coming home with his name in the history books was the only acceptable outcome.

Unfortunately for him, things didn’t exactly go according to plan.

“We failed miserably,” Byers said with a laugh in a Dec. 7 interview with The Omega. “It was a hell of a lot of fun, but we were unsuccessful in our attempt to break records.”

Byers, a veteran of more than 4,170 career jumps, was part of a group of more than 200 skydivers that attempted to set a world record in sequential skydiving. The record attempt involved multiple divers jumping out of a number of aircraft and syncing up in free fall to make mid-air formations. In order to set a record, the group needed to complete at least two formations in a single free fall, though the goal was to do much more than that.

In the end, however, the group was unable to complete even the initial goal of two formations in a single jump and left Arizona empty-handed.

“I think what ended up happening is we tried to go too big, too quickly,” Byers said. “We came very close on the last jump, but we just weren’t able to build it.”

The group made 24 jumps during its seven days in Arizona, which included a head-to-head competition at the beginning of the week that had the jumpers break into two teams to compete against each other in an attempt to set a smaller record that would later be broken by the larger troop – even that part of the endeavour ended in disappointment.

Byers said the group had to deal with some bad weather throughout its week in Eloy, which cut down on the number of jumps it could perform. He felt that given another few attempts, they may have found success.

“Basically there was a couple people making silly mistakes on each skydive, unfortunately,” he said. “Even if it’s only one person on each jump, you don’t have 200 tries.

“That’s the way it works out. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t.”

Currently, there aren’t any plans for the group to get back together to make another attempt at a record, though Byers said the organizers will likely start looking at setting something up again in another six months or so. Should they decide to give it another go, he hopes he can again be invited to be involved.

“It was definitely still a great learning experience,” Byers said. “I came back with a lot of different skills that I can apply to teaching and coaching, and my skydiving in general, and it’s certainly been a learning experience in terms of working towards a record.

“I think that the next time we give it a go we’ll definitely get it.”