Aerial treats at the National Day Parade (NDP) will be bigger this year, with naval divers joining the crowd favourite Red Lions in a free-fall jump for the first time in parade history.
The divers from the Republic of Singapore Navy's Naval Diving Unit (NDU) will drop 1,800m from a Super Puma helicopter into the waters around the Marina Bay floating platform. They will be followed closely by the Red Lions, who, for the first time, will be jumping in wing suits for the parade, and will land on the platform itself. The NDU's manoeuvre on Aug 9, called the free-fall water jump, is used in actual operations to access areas that are hard to reach by other means, such as boarding a ship out at sea.
Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Eric Tay, 47, leads the group of eight divers and said they will be carrying gear weighing 50kg and wearing dive fins while falling. "This is to showcase the operational capabilities of the navy to the public," he said, adding that operational gear, which includes an assault rifle, can weigh up to 70kg.
MWO Tay said the fins catch a lot of wind when divers fall through the air, making it more difficult to control their movements. Once they land in the water, they remove their parachutes, perform an equipment check, regroup and move off. MWO Tay has jumped more than 750 times and has performed thrice as a Red Lion for the NDP.
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In another series of NDP firsts, the Red Lions will be making their famed display jump from a greater height of 3,800m, the highest in NDP history. The higher-altitude jump - up from about 3,000m - will give the team one minute of free fall. Normal free-fall jumps in previous NDP displays were 30 seconds long.
The bright-red wing suits the team will be donning also allow them to "fly" and use their body positions to navigate. One of the challenges with the suit is keeping arms and legs extended to maintain a rigid "wing" that will allow jumpers to navigate the skies, said Red Lion, Major Arnold Low, 42.
Source: The Straits Times, published Jul 15, 2018. Link HERE
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