Biggest Red Lion team jumping in NDP 2022

Actions /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/2224f947-69c1-4a92-b600-4b98206b7869/01aug22_photo1.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-2224f947-69c1-4a92-b600-4b98206b7869-o9nG1Pr /web/portal/pioneer/article/cover-article-detail/community/2022-Q3/01aug22_news1
01 Aug 2022 | COMMUNITY

Biggest Red Lion team jumping in NDP 2022

Twenty-four Red Lions, including three female parachutists, will be taking part in this year's National Day celebrations.

// Story by Teo Jing Ting

// Photos by PIONEER photographers

This National Day Parade (NDP), watch out for 24 Red Lions – the largest team in NDP history – as they take the plunge at different three sites.

The elite parachutist team includes three servicewomen, which is another first for NDP 2022.

A total of 14 Red Lions will be landing at two heartland sites on 7 Aug.

Seven jumpers will land at the field beside Junction 8, Bishan, while another team of seven will make their appearance at the field along North Buona Vista Road, near Ghim Moh Food Market.

2WO Shirley Ng – the first female Red Lion – is among three female parachutists in this year's team.

Come 9 Aug, the rest of the 10 parachutists will perform their jumps at the main stage at The Float @ Marina Bay.

Among them is 2nd Warrant Officer (2WO) Shirley Ng, the first female Red Lion who made her debut National Day jump in 2014 after the jump in 2013 was called off due to bad weather.

The 44-year-old rigger is the ninth jumper to land at The Float this year. This is her fourth time jumping for NDP – besides taking part in 2013 and 2014, she participated in the heartlands jump at Sengkang in 2020.

The Red Lions will be exiting the Republic of Singapore Air Force's C-130 Hercules transport plane at slightly less than 10,000 feet (about 3km).

Crowds around Marina Bay will be treated to the sight of 10 Red Lions taking the plunge from over 3km in the sky this National Day.

Sharing what goes through her mind when she jumps, 2WO Ng said: "From exiting the aircraft to deploying and subsequently manoeuvring my canopy, it is all carefully planned and rehearsed. So I'm very focused on what I've prepared for.

"But when I'm coming down, it's very heartening to see Singaporeans waving their flags and cheering for us. We really can hear you, so cheer for us!"

(From left) 2WO Ng, 3WO Sandy and 3WO Shirley are long-time friends. 2WO Ng and 3WO Shirley are secondary schoolmates, and the duo met 3WO Sandy when she enlisted in 1999.

Female Red Lions in the sky

NDP 2022 is also especially significant for 2WO Ng as it is the first time that she is participating with two of her good friends and fellow Red Lions, 3WO Shirley Wong and 3WO Sandy Wong.

Both ladies are the sixth jumpers for the heartland sites on 7 Aug – 3WO Shirley will be at Bishan while 3WO Sandy makes an appearance at the Ghim Moh site.

As first-time Red Lion participants, the two parachutists are honoured to be part of NDP and looking forward to putting up a good show at the heartlands.

(From left) 2WO Hong Chet Heng, 3WO Shirley and 3WO Singh are part of the 7-man team jumping at Bishan on 7 Aug.

It is also a memorable moment for 3WO Shirley, who overcame her fear of heights to become a parachutist in 2008. She did so in order to join 2WO Ng and 3WO Sandy, who became certified free fallers in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

The initial stage was not easy. "I used to be very anxious but I tried to focus on the training, skills and execution. (That's how) I began to overcome the fear," said 3WO Shirley.

Today, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) rigger and parachute instructor is clearly no longer afraid of heights. With 350 jumps under her belt, 3WO Shirley relishes every opportunity she gets to skydive.

"I really enjoy (jumping) now. The moment I jump out of the aircraft, I just concentrate on all the things I need to execute and to land safely."

A Red Lion proudly flying the Singapore flag at Bishan.

Bringing cheer to the heartlands

Through her practice jumps at Bishan, 3WO Shirley finds fulfilment in seeing the public cheering her on and is excited for 7 Aug.

"I can see people waving at us through their windows and cheering us on as we are landing. This really encourages us and give us a boost of confidence."

For 3WO Sandy, becoming a Red Lion is a dream come true.

Despite having to go through numerous training and practice sessions prior to the heartland jumps, the SAF rigger and parachute instructor feels that it is all worth it.

"The Red Lion jump has always been one of the favourite segments of NDP and, this year, I feel very honoured and happy to do my part for Singapore together with my friends. I just want to bring the cheer and excitement to Singaporeans," said 3WO Sandy, who has completed 417 jumps.

With plenty of buildings and traffic to watch out for, jumping and navigating into the heartlands require lots of practise.

Navigating the heartland terrain

Leading 3WO Sandy and her teammates at the Ghim Moh site is Master Warrant Officer (MWO) Chong Boon Heng, 46.

For the heartland jumps, both teams will be exiting the aircraft at 6,000 feet (about 1.8km) and deploying their parachutes at 4,000 feet (about 1.2km). They will also be freefalling at a speed of 180kmh.

All eyes are on a Red Lion as he is about to land during a practice jump at Ghim Moh.

Before the jumps, the Red Lions scouted the freefall area and secured an in-depth knowledge of the buildings and roads.

"Our jumps are carefully planned and we have done all the necessary preparations," said MWO Chong. He is no stranger to NDP jumps, having taken part as a Red Lion five times previously, but this is his first doing a jump in the heartlands.

"There may be more landmarks (as compared to The Float) that we need to take note of but what is most important is having the same synergy when jumping as a team."

3WO Singh is the third jumper at the Bishan site.

3WO Kuldheep Singh, who is the third jumper at the Bishan site, shared the same sentiment.

"Doing the jump in the heartlands is quite challenging way because it's a new terrain. There are buildings and traffic to look out for so our training involves a lot of practice, safety briefs and contingencies," said the 47-year-old parachutist, who is taking part as a Red Lion in NDP for the first time.

The 7-man team, which includes 3WO Singh (left) and 3WO Shirley (fourth from left) are excited to put up a good show at Bishan on 7 Aug.

Ready for the celebrations

Despite the challenges, both MWO Chong and 3WO Singh are ready and excited to jump on 7 Aug.

"It's definitely the proudest moment (for us when jumping as a Red Lion) because we are representing Singapore and the SAF, and we are doing it for the nation," said 3WO Singh.

MWO Chong added: "By bringing the Red Lions into the heartlands, it definitely brings us closer to all Singaporeans and they can celebrate together with us.

"We can't wait to hear the crowd cheering for us, so see you on 7 Aug!"

Suggested Reading
Experience the thrill of the chase at NDP!
Cover story
Experience the thrill of the chase at NDP!

A whole lot of hard work goes into the adrenaline-pumping moves for the Total Defence Display at NDP 2022.

NDP back at Float with large-scale show, and heartland celebrations
NDP back at Float with large-scale show, and heartland celebrations

National Day Parade (NDP) 2022 aims to bring Singaporeans together for the country's 57th birthday festivities this year.

What to do at Army Open House 2022 Feature
What to do at Army Open House 2022

Here are the highlights not to miss when the Army Open House opens at the F1 Pit Building this weekend.

NDP 2021 paves the way for new normal in S'pore Feature
NDP 2021 paves the way for new normal in S'pore

This year's National Day Parade (NDP) will be held at The Float @ Marina Bay, with various activities held across Singapore.

NDP 2020 in our hearts
NDP 2020 in our hearts

"This was what we set out to achieve when COVID-19 hit us – to organise an NDP that would rally and unite Singaporeans."

Don't rain on my parade — 9 memorable NDP firsts
Don't rain on my parade — 9 memorable NDP firsts

From the gripping flypast to fiery fireworks, the National Day Parade (NDP) celebrations are something Singaporeans look forward to every year.

为2020年国庆庆典进行的一场特别的检阅舰队 Feature
A special sailpast for NDP 2020 Feature
A special sailpast for NDP 2020

The Maritime Sailpast is returning to the National Day Parade after 20 years, featuring 13 vessels from the Republic of Singapore Navy and Home Team agencies, as a special ode to Singapore.

在2020年国庆庆典中,红狮队降落在中心地带 Feature