Catch the winged Red Lions at NDP!
//Report by Chia Chong Jin
//Photos by Chua Soon Lye & Tan Yong Quan
Winged Red Lions will soar at this year's National Day Parade (NDP), as they gear up to perform a wingsuit jump for Singapore's largest birthday party.
The 10-man Red Lions team will be executing a combined freefall segment with elite naval divers from the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) Naval Diving Unit.
This is the first time that such a jump will be performed at NDP. The Red Lions will jump from a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 Hercules aircraft at a height of 12,500feet (almost four kilometres!) over Sentosa island and glide to the Marina Bay Floating Platform to land.
During the jump, the Red Lions will experience about 70 seconds of freefall and reach speeds of up to 200kmh.
Leading the Red Lions team for the jump is 1st Warrant Officer (1WO) Ivan Low. "Part of my role is to plan for training sessions for the team. The training started as early as in February. All our jumps are in team level, so we have to run through many scenarios to perfect our jumps," he said.
"I also gather the team to discuss issues pertaining to the formation and the technical aspects of this wingsuit jump."
"Navigation during the jump is my responsibility, and I will be the one making the call to move left or right if there is cloud cover or when the visibility of us from the spectator stands is poor."
This is his first time being the team leader of the Red Lions but he is confident of success. "The main challenge for myself and the team would definitely be the clouds but we also have our contingency plans if anything doesn't go according to plan on the day," said 1WO Low, who has some 1,400 jumps under his belt.
The Red Lions will form a nine-man diamond formation, while Major (MAJ) Arnold Low will capture the aerial action as the Red Lions' cameraman.
"We decided to do something different this year," said MAJ Low, who has done some 1,100 jumps so far.
"Instead of appearing in a straight column, we will jump from approximately 3km away (from the Marina Bay Floating Platform), just slightly above Sentosa. As we exit the aircraft, we will fly in instead of freefalling towards the Floating Platform. Once we deploy (our parachutes), the remaining part of the descent would be the same as the previous NDP."
Team effort is the key to success, said MAJ Low. "Every jump is always a new jump for us," said the 42-year-old. "When it comes to display jumps like this for NDP, it comes down to team effort, everybody has to play their part in this jump."
MAJ Low has been jumping since 2005 and he has been with the Red Lions since 2013. At this year's NDP, it will be his fifth time jumping with the Red Lions.
As the Red Lions cameraman, he is tasked to capture footage of the nine other members of the team, which is then used for post-jump analysis to help the team improve.
"I picked up photography back in 2005 when I first picked up skydiving. Being able to be the cameraman for the Red Lions this year is very exciting, as I get to capture different angles of the jump as I hover above, under or beside them.
Before the Red Lions perform their wingsuit jump, the RSN's elite Naval Combat Divers will execute a freefall water jump in full operational gear.
They will be jumping from an RSAF Super Puma helicopter at 6,000 feet into the waters around the Marina Bay Floating Platform. The eight Naval Combat Divers will then deploy their military parachutes at 4,000 feet to come into a vertical stack formation. From 700 feet, the divers will pilot their way to land precisely in a designated drop zone in the waters.
Be sure to catch the Red Lions as well as the Naval Combat Divers at this year's NDP!