Sponsored by Skydive Dubai, two Soul Flyer world champions set a new world record by base jumping from a pre-made platform 500 feet above the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa. The diving duo, Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen, performed a series of choreographed acrobatic stunts while pummeling headfirst over three thousand feet through the air. Alongside the mirrored structure, they appeared to drift to the ground as red plumes of billowing smoke signals tailed behind them. After a gentle glide once releasing their parachutes, the thrill-seekers executed a safe and celebratory landing on the Burj Kahlifa’s manicured lawn.
Burj Khalifa climbs 2,717 feet into the desert air of Dubai. It is roughly twice the height of New York’s Empire State Building, which was the tallest building in the United States for 41 years. Reffet and Fugen trained three years specifically in order to execute this jump. Part of the preparation included acclimating themselves to the effects of the altitude of the tower. In order to get high enough in the sky, they jumped off of a Swiss mountain near Lauterbrunnen, which is approximately the same height as Dubai’s famous tower. They also jumped out of helicopters circling the Dubai skyline to ensure they would not be distracted the city’s famous architecture and landscape on jump day. As longtime members of Soul Flyers, the veteran base jumpers have had their fair share of adventure-seeking activities. The Soul Flyers organizes many exhilarating sporting events such as skydiving, base jumping, and paragliding.
Since this team of Dubai skydivers were not the first dare-devils to jump from the top of Burj Khalifa, they needed to make a few alterations to ensure they could break the world record. They built a unique three-by-one meter stage, which was bracketed off a ladder-like enhanced structure 500 feet high. With competing winds and other frustrating weather conditions, it was very difficult to install the booster piece. It took three whole days in immensely threatening work conditions, but by attaching the entire platform to the top of the spire-like building, they had enough of an advantage to compete with the previous record.
Skydive Dubai, who sponsored and organized the record-breaking base jump, posted a video of the event on their Facebook page to celebrate the feat. They added in a statement,”This success is due to the ‘practice make perfect’ method of training that we always follow and the 100 percent dedication of everyone working on this project.”
Once the parachuted pair landed, they gripped one another’s hands in a moment of triumph on Burj Khalifa’a exquisitely landscaped lawn. They knew they had succeeded in breaking the world’s record. All of their hard work had paid off. Both jumpers were astonished by their accomplishment of achieving a lifelong dream. “This was the jump of a lifetime and an achievement of three years of hard training. I am glad we landed successfully, accomplishing a lifelong dream,” Fugen asserted. Reffet agreed whole-heartedly, thanking Skydive Dubai and stating the record-breaking jump off of Burj Khalifa was a dream come true.
By Stacy Feder