Kentucky’s record for most skydives in a day has stood for more than a decade, but that’s only because no one has tried to beat his 40 jumps, says record-holder Bob Boswell, 66, of Bardstown.
Next Friday, Boswell’s friend and fellow skydiving junkie, Troy Woods, an electrician from Lawrenceburg, plans to double the record.
“Sixty will be easy, and I’m hoping for 80, maybe more,” said Woods, 38, hinting that more than 100 is not out of the question.
“It’s 5 minutes and 30 seconds from landing to landing,” Woods said about his team’s practice runs, which include the takeoff, the jump from 2,200 feet, the landing and packing up to do over again.
Woods, who made his first jump six years ago, has often talked about breaking the record but wanted to use the attempt to raise money for a good cause. When he learned a coworker’s cousin, Jesse Scott, was battling leukemia a second time, he decided to help raise funds for the 17-year-old’s medical expenses.
Woods has invited the public to Arnolds Airport in Springfield to watch him jump Friday and enjoy free food provided by Kentucky Fried Chicken, games and live music. The record attempt begins at daylight and ends at dark, or when Woods’ body gives out.
“What he’ll be able to do depends on how much stamina he’s got,” said Boswell, who will be one of three pilots flying the Cessna 182 from which Woods will jump.
“It does drag on you. You get very tired doing it. You get that adrenaline rush right when you jump out of the plane, and you’re basically doing that over and over.”
When Boswell hit his record in 1996, he was going for 50 jumps to celebrate his 50th birthday, but the weather wasn’t cooperative, and he couldn’t start until the afternoon.
Just six hours “was harder than I thought,” he admits.
His advice for Woods is to make sure he doesn’t get too tired to react quickly if something malfunctions. Boswell said today the rate of equipment malfunctions is one in every 750 jumps, whereas it was one in every 200 when he started in the 1960s.
Woods, whose wife, Julie, and 10-year-old daughter, Christina, are 100 percent behind him, says safety is his top priority. He skydives weekly with a group of friends who recently opened Jumping for Fun Skydiving in Lebanon. A team of 20 will help with safety checks, packing parachutes and keeping Woods fueled with food and water.
Boswell said he remembers a couple of Cokes kept his energy level up when he started to get tired.
Woods has also invited world-record holder Jay Stokes, president of the U.S. Parachuters Association, to attend Friday. Stokes, a career skydiver, made 641 jumps in a 24-hour period, which required three planes and a staff of 50.
To put that record in perspective, Stokes made 241 more jumps in one day than Woods has made in six years. Woods made his 430th jump Wednesday evening.
Woods, who has jumped in states all over the nation, says it’s not strange that Kentucky’s record is low and unbroken given that so few people in the state have adopted skydiving as a hobby.
“There aren’t very many of us here, not more than 20 of us in the state, I’d say,” he said. “There are two drop zones, and we’re both small. Most anyone who wants to set a record is going to go to another state.”
The main goal of the event is to raise money for Scott, but Woods says he also expects it to inspire more Kentuckians to consider joining him in his passion. There’s nothing better than jumping out of a plane in the middle of Kentucky countryside, he says, referring to his favorite drop zone in Lebanon.
“It’s a grass runway, not a big airport,” he explains. “It’s out in the country, it’s beautiful out there. Nothing compares to when you jump out at sunset. You get out, open up and enjoy the ride down.”
To read Jesse Scott’s story, go to Jessesjourney.wordpress.com. Donations may be made at any BB&T Bank location, or by mailing a check to BB&T, 5205 Hasbrook Drive, Louisville, KY 40229. Checks may be made out to Marcus Hourigan/Jesse’s Journey. Hourigan is Scott’s cousin and the coworker who first told Woods about his battle with leukemia.
Be there for the record:
When: Friday, June 22, from sunup (around 6:30 a.m.) until sundown
Where: Arnolds Airport, 858 Simstown Road, Springfield
Admission: Food provided by KFC, music and games are free and open to the public