American businessman Larry Connor is no stranger to breaking records. In 2022, he became the first person to travel to the deepest part of the ocean — the Mariana Trench — and to outer space — the International Space Station — within 12 months. The latter was also the first all-private mission to the space laboratory.
On September 28, 2023, the adventurer etched his name in the record books again — this time for completing the highest-altitude formation HALO (high altitude, low open) jump. The 73-year-old also broke his own record, set in 2022, of being the oldest person to perform a HALO jump.
HALO jumps were first developed in the 1960s by the US Military to deploy soldiers, equipment, and supplies to hostile areas. The biggest difference between a HALO jump and a regular skydive is the altitude from which the participants leap off the airplane. While a standard jump happens from around 14,000 feet (4,267 meters), HALO jumps occur from over 30,000 feet (9,144 meters). Also, the skydivers freefall to a much lower altitude before opening their parachutes.
Connor accomplished the remarkable feat with members of his Alpha 5 Project team. They include Brandon Daughtery, Rob Dieguez, Chris Lais, and Jimmy Petrolia. All are former or current US Air Force Pararescuemen with extensive experience in HALO jumping.
The five skydivers lifted aboard a nearly 115-foot-tall (35-meter) balloon from Roswell, New Mexico, in the early morning hours. Upon reaching 38,000 feet (11,582 meters), the jumpers leaped off. They briefly linked arms in formation before separating and parachuting down. The record was validated by an observer from Guinness World Records.
This is not the first time the Alpha 5 Project team has attempted this record. In 2022, they completed a HALO formation dive from 33,000 feet (10,058 meters). The feat was initially certified by the Guinness World Record officials. However, it was later discovered that another group had completed the formation jump from the same height seven years earlier. It had just not been registered with the records company.
Upon finding out, Connor said, "So we're going to go back in May and do it again — this time from 34,000 feet — and get the record. "We will not be deterred."
It took a few months longer than anticipated. However, the 73-year-old made good on his promise and set a new record from an even higher height!
The Alpha 5 Project team hopes to use the publicity from the record to raise $1 million for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The nonprofit provides college scholarships and educational counseling to the children of American Special Operations personnel killed in the line of duty.
Resources: Space.com, Businesswire.com, Daytondaily.com