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A member of the US Navy “Leap Frogs” parachute team has died after an incident near New York City just after noon today. The team was performing as part of Fleet Week New York, and was jumping into Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ. During the jump, one team member’s parachute malfunctioned and he fell into the water after cutting away from it. It is unclear at what altitude this occurred and if he attempted to open his reserve canopy.
The jumper was immediately retrieved from the water and taken to a nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead at 1:10pm. The name of the jumper is being withheld so that next of kin can be notified, but we will update this post when it is released.
Our thoughts go out to all of the Leap Frogs as they mourn their teammate.
Freefall Parachuting, also referred to as Sky Diving or Sport Parachuting, is the art of exiting from an aircraft at a high altitude, stabilizing the body during a delayed fall, executing various maneuvers, safely opening the parachute at a given time over a given ground reference point and guiding the parachute so as to land on a specific target. With today’s technology, training and expertise, this art form has exceeded the wildest expectations of those UDT SEAL pioneers of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, and no one does it better than today’s “Leap Frogs.”
Over sixty years ago, freefall parachuting started to come into its own and our Frogmen were into the middle of it. In 1956, after graduating with the first UDT Detachment to attend Basic Airborne Training, a quiet professional from UDT TWENTY-ONE, MN1 (later LCDR) Jim McGee, ordered a main and reserve parachute from an ad in Mechanics Illustrated and commenced making freefall jumps from his two seated Aeronca Chief. He and his UDT pilot buddy, LTJG Bruce Welch, alternated flying the plane and jumping from it using his newly acquired parachute assembly. When word got out in the Teams about this newfound joy, there was a run on NAS Salvage to pickup anything that resembled a parachute.