Skydivers from 28 countries attempted the feat at about 19,500
feet in the air above the town of Eloy before deploying their
parachutes, Gulcin Gilbert, spokeswoman for the World Team group
organizing the attempt, said in an email.
The team was trying to break the world record for most skydivers
changing from one kaleidoscope-like formation to another in a one
jump. The record is currently held by 110 skydivers in Florida.
The attempt failed because two skydivers were out of formation,
"But the spirit right now is still great," Gilbert said. "Everyone
gave their best. After all this record was extremely difficult."
Friday marked the fourth and final planned day of attempts at the
popular U.S. skydiving facility about 65 miles south of Phoenix.
Judges from Swiss-based Federation Aeronautique Internationale were
present to watch the attempt, Gilbert said.
Skydivers had dedicated the effort on Friday to a veteran German
skydiver who was killed when her main parachute malfunctioned during
a record-breaking attempt the day before. Berlin's Diana Paris, 46,
was pronounced dead at the scene after her main parachute was
released too low to allow her reserve parachute to open and she hit
the ground, authorities said.
An investigation continues into the woman's death
it was the first skydiving fatality in the group's 20-year existence
and that safety was foremost in their minds in the 18 months spent
preparing for the jump.
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Pinpoint precision was required for the attempt at the complicated
maneuver, which was set into motion with 10 aircraft taking aloft
the team of 221 skydivers.
The team had decided to move ahead despite the fatal accident,
leaving a slot open in the formations in honor of the deceased
skydiver, Gilbert said.
The accident marked the third skydiving death since December in
attempts to break a record in the sport.
At the same facility last December, two skydivers were killed after
colliding at a height of between 200 and 300 feet and falling to the
ground in what authorities ruled an accident.
Briton Keiron O'Rourke, 40, and Bernd Schmehl, 51, of Germany, were
killed when a group of 200 skydivers from another organization tried
to break the double-formation record.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)
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