73-year-old man leads ‘Alpha 5’ to world record jump in Roswell
ROSWELL, N.M. — You’ve probably seen hot air balloons doing test flights ahead of Balloon Fiesta but have you ever seen anyone jumping out of them?
Five men ascended 38,000 feet up from the parade field at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.
“I mean, you can almost see the curvature of the earth. Beautiful.”
Those five men were in a special balloon as high as cruising altitude for planes – and far higher than the 1,000-3,000 feet of altitude Fiesta balloons reach.
With hands locked in a halo formation, they leaped off the gondola.
Just like that, a world record was set.
“We were absolutely successful. The whole team did nothing short of a phenomenal job,” said Larry Connor, the team captain of Alpha 5.
Four current and former U.S. Air Force pararescuemen join Conner on the Alpha 5. They only faced one slight issue going up.
“I had a little trouble breathing out about 30-33,000 feet. I think the valve might have been getting a little bit frozen, but we’ve got that fixed,” they said.
Ultimately, the jump was near perfect.
“The ride down the formation is pretty much as we thought. It was going to be coming out of the balloon.”
The size of the balloon is a recordbreaker in itself. To be able to go that high, it took four burners and special materials to withstand the elements.
The daring mission took years in the making but the 73-year-old behind the effort says breaking records wasn’t the goal.
“What’s more important, is the purpose. We were doing this for Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” Conner said.
They raised over $1 million for the foundation – a nonprofit that provides assistance to children of fallen special ops personnel and all Medal of Honor recipients.
That, is what makes it worth it.
“It’s a little surreal, but really proud to be here and it’s amazing. We did it.”