Altus Airman, Soldier help set world record

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leandra D. Hernandez
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
A Soldier with the Army's Golden Knights parachute demonstration team attempted to set a new world wing-suit distance record April 14, over Altus Air Force Base.

According to Army Staff Sgt. Ben Borger and a C-17 Globemaster III crew, he broke the record by a mile and a half.

The total distance traveled was 11.5 miles beating the old record he set last year of 10 miles over Yuma, Ariz. Members of the Golden Knights are currently awaiting confirmation of the new set record from Guinness Book of World Records officials.

Sergeant Borger met up with a crew from Altus AFB during the filming of "Transformers 2" in late 2007. From there the crews and the Golden Knights planned jumps over both Yuma, Ariz., last year as well as this weeks' jump.

"In February (2009) we started planning for this one so there's a lot of coordination that needs to happen for this and without the Altus AFB crew, especially the crew that flew me today, this wouldn't happen so a great thanks to them," Sergeant Borger said.

This is not a normal mission for the Altus AFB C-17s, said Capt. Bryan Bailey, the C-17 aircraft commander.

"We are actually one of a few C-17 crews that is not in the test and evaluation center to drop from 32,000 feet," he said. "We used the most seasoned, experienced instructor crew we could get. We have the experience so we can teach others."

Due to the new joint precision air drop system launched in March, the pilots were familiar with the procedures needed to perform the mission. Without that system, no one would have been qualified to perform the procedures needed to make the jump a success.

"Basically we used the same procedures," Captain Bailey said. "We get the coordinates needed from computers and that is exactly what we had to do."

"We tried this last year only from 25,000 feet," Sergeant Borger said. "The current world record was set from 33,000 feet and the guy went 10 miles. So last year I jumped 25,000 feet and traveled 10 miles. Hopefully we put a significant dent in that record."

With the assistance of the Altus AFB C-17 flight crew, Sergeant Borger jumped out of the plane at an altitude of 32,000 feet. However, complications in the sky forced Sergeant Borger to land in a farmers' field rather than the base flightline.

"As far as his equipment and the aircraft, everything worked," Captain Bailey said. "The winds and cloud cover complicated the landing; however, the mission was a complete success as far as equipment aircraft and safety."

With no cell phone coverage or an idea where he was, Sergeant Borger gathered all his gear hiked toward a farmer, Dustin Spradlin, he spotted four miles away.

"He actually gave me a ride into town and helped out tremendously," Sergeant Borger said. "If it wasn't for him I'd either still be walking or trying to hitchhike down (highway) 62, so thanks to Dustin out there."

Sergeant Borger also tested a new parachute harness that incorporates the oxygen equipment with nonstandard parachuting gear.

"Jumping from 32,000 feet, the air is so thin up there that you're required to wear an oxygen mask," he said. "If you didn't have that you'd be conscious for less than a minute before you'd pass out; so having the oxygen system working to its peak performance is pretty crucial."

"It's an incredible feeling that it was such a successful outcome," Captain Bailey said. "Most guys can go their whole career and never do this drop."