Extreme Skydivers Set Themselves On Fire In Dramatic Stunt
Jumping out of a plane with a parachute is brave, leaping with fireworks strapped to you is bonkers. Meet pyrotechnic skydiving.
A group of skydivers have taken their extreme hobby to the next level…
The Fastrax team, based in Ohio, USA, are high performance skydivers used to throwing themselves out of planes and creating shapes in the sky.
Their latest act includes an added element of danger – sticks of gunpowder attached to the divers' ankles firing sparks everywhere.
After jumping at 13,500ft the divers press one of six buttons on their chest which sends an electrical impulse to trigger the fireworks.
The explosives burn at 100,000 candle power and 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit for about 45 seconds each while the team are hanging onto each other's arms in free fall.
When they get to 5,000ft the team have to carefully manoeuvre the release of their parachute while avoiding the flames which can shoot up to 800ft in the air before lighting another set of fireworks.
Team leader John Hart says: "It looks like a meteor when we're falling through the sky with flames flying behind us. It's just a long trail of fire."
Other people do it with theatrical pyrotechnics but it's not genuine - they're small and there's no risk involved. When we exit the aircraft you feel a lot of energy - it's pitch black apart from our electronic lights that we use to find each other. I haven't been on [a jump] that hasn't got my heart racing because it can be dangerous. The temperature goes up by six degrees just from the heat of the pyrotechnics and it is easy to be disorientated once they have gone out. Your eyes haven't adjusted but you still have to identify your landing location in the dark. But it won't stop me because it's such a beautiful thing to be part of.
"It all started when we were thinking about what could set us apart as a skydiving team. And we thought 'Let's set ourselves on fire!'" – John Hart.
We travel around the world performing at special events where people are hoping to give a presentation or a fireworks display with that extra spark. We've been to Malaysia, the UAE, Russia and Japan and all over the USA. Although we've got 30 people on the ordinary skydiving team there are just ten of us that do pyrotechnics. You need excellent freefall skills and stability. Being picked for the pyro team is the pinnacle of skydiving. You have to do 2,000 jumps before you are even considered - it's no mean feat!
Norman Kent is the plucky skydiving photographer behind these snaps, he says: "It's a very delicate thing because you're basically jumping out of a plane with live explosives."
I've worked on films like Godzilla and Enders Game filming aerial stunts but watching the Fastrax team skydive with fireworks is something else. They have to perform the dive perfectly otherwise they're at risk of burning themselves. A small error means it could end very differently, it's a really spectacular thing. It's difficult to get close to take pictures while avoiding being burnt. I have a special suit which means I have great mobility as I freefall. It's really like flying.