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VOICE OVER: Chris Masson
written by Michael Wynands

Many of humankind's myths, like Icarus, center around hubris, and harsh lessons in “flying too close to the sun.” But hey, science is the new religion, and these high flying extreme sport enthusiasts aren't using wax wings for parachutes. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts.

In today's instalment, we're counting down the five greatest record-breaking facts about skydiving, celebrating mankind's endless pursuit of new heights and extreme aerial acrobatics.

Special thanks to our user JTJS Games for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest

#5: The World Record For Jumps in 24 Hours is 640

If you find something you love…never let go. Or alternately, do it as many times as is humanly possible. In 2001, Michael Zang accomplished a record-breaking 500 jumps in less than 24 hours. He performed a jump roughly every three minutes, from a height of just about 2100 feet - a substantially lower and quicker jump than the standard 12,000-ft jump. One might’ve assumed that Zang’s breakneck pace would be impossible to top, but Jay Stokes of Arizona managed an impressive 534 jumps in 24 hours, before returning to blow both his and Zang’s personal bests out of the sky with a face-melting... 640 jumps to set a new world record. What better way is there to celebrate your 50th Birthday?

#4: The Highest Skydiving Record Is Held By a Google Exec

Innovative minds always long to push the boundaries of possibility, and there are few better contemporary examples than the folks over at Google. Alan Eustace, a Senior Vice President at the company, set a world record for skydiving by literally jumping from the stratosphere, completing a dive from 25 miles high over a period of roughly 15 minutes. This record-breaking leap from over 135,000 feet beat out the Red Bull sponsored record set by Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from 128,100 feet in 2012. Eustace broke the sound barrier after 31 seconds of freefall, and hit his max speed of 822 MPH after just 51 seconds. To give that some context... a skydiver typically tops out at 120 MPH during free fall.

#3: The Youngest Skydiver was 4 Years Old

There seems to be no shortage of elderly people wanting to celebrate old age with death defying leaps. Fred Mack and Verdun Hayes have each marked hitting the big one hundred by going skydiving, while Armand Gendreau set the world record at the age of 101. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t many people on the other end of the spectrum fighting to break the record set by young Toni Stadler, who jumped from a height of 10,000 feet at the ripe old age of four. This junior adrenaline junkie had apparently been begging his parents to let him partake in one of their favourite past times - plummeting from the skies. Toni’s parents stress that he made the decision himself, and was in no way coerced.

#2: In 2016, a Record-Breaking 25,000-ft Jump Was Performed Without a Parachute

There are plenty of urban legends about people surviving a skydiving accident in which the parachute fails. The truth is…there’s no surviving a fall from that height without a chute. Those who have survived these incidents have often had a parachute partially open, still slowing down the fall by some degree. But in 2016, Luke Aikins performed a truly chuteless jump and lived to tell the tale. Falling from 25,000 feet, this 42 year old, who already had 18,000 jumps to his credit, guided his body towards a giant 100 square-foot “flytrap net” which was suspended high off the ground to catch him, and slowed down his speed of his fall with the help of compressed air cylinders. Talk about a leap of faith...

#1: You Can Jump Without a Parachute – It’s Called Banzai Skydiving

Luke Aikins’ chuteless jump may have been the first of its kind, but he wasn’t the first to push the safety limits of this sport. The idea of chuteless jumps gave birth to a subcategory of the sport called Banzai skydiving, which involves throwing a parachute out of the plane and diving after it. People typically wait just a few seconds, but at the competitive level, people push that gap to the limits. Yasuhiro Kubo holds the record with a 50 second delay. Guinness Book of World Records editor Craig Glenday has called it “the most dangerous record category,” stating that it’s only allowed in the books since it’s an example of a record where you put your own life at risk, but no one else’s.

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