Dubai: Professional skydiver Ernesto Gainza’s feet on Saturday touched the ground after a death-defying skydive, but his heart was still on cloud nine. After all he had broken the Guinness World Record for the smallest parachute jump at just 35 square feet.
Jumping at 14,000 feet with a parachute just a little smaller than a single bed, Gainza, 35, sealed the world record at about 6.20pm on Saturday when he jumped at SkyDive Dubai Palm Drop Zone. The previous record was held by Luigi Cani when he jumped in February 2008 with a 37sqft canopy. A regular parachute measures 120 square feet, roughly the size of an average child’s room.
“I’m having a lot of emotions right now. During the jump, I just enjoyed the view and enjoyed flying with my colleagues,” Gainza, from Venezuela, told Gulf News.
The record jump was delayed for an hour and was made at about 6.10pm because of the strong winds blowing at 26 miles per hour (41.84km/h). Gainza jumped with his teammates Christian Wagner, David Ludvick, and Roberta Mancino when the wind speed dropped to between 19mph and 20mph. It took him less than four minutes to safely land without using his two reserve regular parachutes.
Gainza waved his country’s flag after the record jump.
“Thank you for waiting. Thank you for your patience,” Gainza addressed the crowd after the stunt.
Guinness World Record adjudicator Samer Khallouf accompanied Gainza on the plane before his jump to make sure the marked Record Parachute was not replaced.
Before his jump on Saturday, a composed Gainza admitted the stunt was one of the most dangerous jumps he had ever done in his life. But he is no stranger to death-defying stunts. This daredevil by profession tests new models or designs of parachutes for manufacturers to ensure they’re safe for public use. He’s been doing this for the past five years.
“Before a parachute is released, we test them. We submit reports to the manufacturers about their performance on air. I have more experience in that field [than anywhere else],” Gainza said.
Gainza said he tried using the 35sqft parachute five times weeks before the record attempt on Saturday but ended up using the reserve parachute on his back. To be able to fully test a parachute this size, he needs to be able to make at least 20 complete jumps using it. But for the world record, he only needed to fly and land it in a safe way, which he did.
Gainza said the 12-month physical training and sacrifice he went through was all worth it. His diet was strictly monitored to keep him at 52kg from his normal weight of 58kg.
“This has always been my dream — not to break a world record but to skydive with the smallest parachute. I want to inspire humans to achieve extraordinary feats and break boundaries.”
Known to be always on to something, Gainza said his next “project” will be a lot less risky and leans more on the “normal” side.
“My next aim is to have a baby. My wife and I have been trying for two years. I want to be a father; the baby will make me a bit calmer and happier.”