When five parachutists landed safely on a mountain adjacent to Mt. Everest in Nepal, it lifted a DeLand company to new heights.Complete Parachute Systems, or CPS, in lat October tested three new pieces of equipment as part of the jumps. It also validated the firm's training methods while opening up a possible new avenue of revenue: An elite version of adventure tourism.Parachuting at 20,200 feet, the jumpers matched a world record set by Paul-Henry de Baere, with Everest Skydive in Kathmandu, Nepal. De Baere accomplished the feat in May.
Fred Williams, president of CPS, said CPS employees O.J. Anderson, Kevin Duke and Gregory Tomas, as well as Bob Harward of Lockheed Martin and Ryan Jackson of Topout Aero, helicoptered to more than 3,000 feet above the landing zone on the West Col of Mount Baruntse, then parachuting to Earth. Williams, three Sherpas and two photographers were waiting there.
CPS used three pieces of new equipment, including an oxygen system, as a way to demonstrate their capabilities on highelevation jumps, as well as into emergency zones such as forest fires.
“We did this to, one, advertise our products are really capable of doing that, and two, we understand what it takes to be successful up there,” Williams said. “We are in the midst of planning next year's expedition,” he said. “Lots of people are showing some interest, and we're looking See EVEREST, D5
Jumpers from the DeLand
company Complete Parachute Systems matched a world record with a 20,200-foot jump near Mount Everest. CPS, a DeLand parachute company that serves military and rescue clients, has led several trips to demonstrate its products and training over the past few years. [CPS PHOTOS]
One of the skydivers from the October Complete Parachute Solutions expedition to the Himalayas braces for a landing on the West Col of Baruntse, in the shadow of Mount Everest.
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to go above and beyond 20,000 feet, to the 23,000 or 24,000 mark.”
He declined to share a specific location CPS is considering.
The high elevation poses physical challenges. Aside from altitude sickness, jumpers must adjust to the thin air that causes them to fall faster and their parachutes to open quicker. In all, 12 people were part of the expedition. Williams, a former Navy SEAL, jumped at the initial three elevations, 12,000, then 15,000 and 17,000 as a way of working up the mountain.
“My motivation was to show my clients we have a sound training program and to demonstrate we could take clients up there without injury or harm to anybody,” he said. Harward, a former Navy SEALs admiral, and Todd Wilcox, a former CIA officer and Green Beret who now works as a defense contractor in Orlando, were paying customers, spending approximately $55,000 to join the exhibition.
Each got to make between five and seven jumps there. “It's a bit intimidating, knowing you have to jump from 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,000 feet above the ground and navigate and land on what is a postage stamp,” Wilcox said in a CPS video from the Himalayas. “The whole thing has been exhilarating from start to finish.”
CPS sees its highelevation parachuting exhibitions as a potential new revenue source for a specific clientele, the people who use CPS parachutes, search-and-rescue operators, firefighters and former military officials.