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Monday, 26 July 2010

Portsmouth Soldier Jumps For Britain

A soldier from Portsmouth is to represent Great Britain in the 19th FAI World Parachuting Championships in Formation Skydiving next month in Russia.
Sgt Aaron Faith (40) of the Parachute Regiment is the only serving soldier in the four-person formation team consisting of two men and two women. His civilian teammates work in telecommunications, a parachuting instructor, and in the building trade.
They are the only team in the world top ten rankings to have full-time jobs outside of competitive skydiving making them the definite underdogs in the competition when the other teams in their rankings are full-time sponsored skydivers.
By contrast the former Priory school student and his team are only able to practice together during leave and weekends.
Despite this, the team, called Satori meaning focus and enlightenment, are seen as strong contenders in the competition, rated as sixth in the world.
“We are the massive underdogs but punch above our weight,” explained Aaron at his base in Netheravon.  “This is the culmination of years and years of effort. We formed three years ago, with the aim to win the nationals last year and therefore qualify to go to the world championships.”
The top three teams of the USA, France and Belgium tend to dominate the championships admits Aaron, but “we are in a real battle with at least four teams to come fourth, and I think it’s fair to say we could easily come sixth, but maybe better.”
That makes this team the strongest UK team to enter the championships.
“This team has got a chance,” says Aaron who last represented team GB in 2004. “If one of the top three make a mistake or have a bad exit we will overtake them and we can be in third place. That can happen. There is not much between us. It’s far more exciting as a competition than before. Before I knew we were going to be in the top ten if we were lucky, but now I know we can potentially be in the top four or very close to third place.
“For every time you make a formation you score points, and you’ve got 35 seconds to score as many points as possible from when you exit. The exit altitude it 10,500ft and the clock starts as soon as you leave the door as a team.”
Satori’s average if 22 formations. The world champion’s is about 23.5.
“I’ve always dreamt about going to the world championships and representing Britain, so this is the chance.”
The championship starts on Sunday August 1st.

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