FREEWAY – A skydiving story

This video follows a group of elite Australian skydivers as they attempt to create an Australian vertical formation record.


Male: Jumping from 18,000 feet with oxygen is a whole different ballgame.

Mickey Nuttal:  It has to be built exactly like we stamped it.

Scatty: We’re trying to set an Australian record here. [inaudible 00:00:32]

Female: Yeah. The visuals I get, what I can smell off the door, what I can taste.

Male:  It’d be hard to get me to stop jumping. I guess I’d have to die. I don’t know.

Will Pesek: Skydiving to me means a lifestyle. It’s my life.

Male: Now, it starts off as a tandem which is just something you do for fun and then it can take you all around the world.

Male: Big way skydiving is about a group of people getting together to build a formation.

Scotty: It’s like a team. You know you got to rely on everyone else to their job as well. If you’re going 300 kilometers an hour and people aren’t doing their job, people can collide and things go wrong.

Will Pesek: The mental preparation for me on a big way is just trying to get calm, trying to understand that even though you’re doing something that’s a record or something that hasn’t been done, that it’s just like any other jump. You just have to do it at the same time with everybody else.

Scatty: The most important thing about big way formations is the base. It is critical that that base is rock solid because everybody else is relying on it. The base is the center of the formation. It’s the heart and if that’s not flying right, then the whole sky dive is.

Male: We hold training camps around Australia to find the country’s best free fliers.

Male:  It’s not just about being a good skydiver. The same as any sport, having that technique of being able to clearly explain what to do and how to brief and debrief people, it’s a skill and he … Mickey is at the top of his game when it comes to that.

Mickey Nuttal: If you’ve never been a part of her record such as the 69-way, when it’s flying, the sound seems to stop. It gets very quiet.

Male: As a full-time skydiving instructor, I spend most of my life at 14,000 feet but jumping from 18,000 feet with oxygen is a whole different ballgame.

Scatty: We’re the first people in Australia to jump with oxygen so it’s been really stressful that I feel like I’ve had the lives of 40 other people in my hands, being a head fuck basically. I guess the climax of that was yesterday.

Male: Everything was going really good until the end of day three and then, shit just started going wrong.

Adrian: I’m there on the lead plane and I looked out the left window and I couldn’t see him.

Scatty: We’re all on oxygen. We’ve got limited supplies.

Adrian: I hear over the radio that one of the planes had stalled. Too many people had climbed out and the plane couldn’t keep that speed through a turn, so it actually dropped out of the sky 2,000 feet and we watched it drop away.

Male: Can anyone see that? It’s falling out of the sky.

Male: No one really knew what was going on. The planes were circling around trying to get back in formation and people were starting to freak out a little bit.

Male:  Once you’ve been in that frame of mind where you’re scared, you’re not sure what’s going on, your mind isn’t focused on the task at hand and so the jump didn’t go perfectly.

Tyler Baird: As soon as we left the door, I don’t know what happened. I just forgot about everything and anything. I’m just … All of a sudden, I was on the ground. I don’t know what was going on up there. It was heavy. It was heavy. I’m so glad to be on the ground. Yeah.

Scatty: This morning was like a fresh start. It’s been four days and it’s tiring. Even though we’re only doing a few jumps a day, being this sort of … having this sort of organization is tiring but after a good night’s sleep, you’d wake up and there was the feeling that I think everyone felt like it was going to happen.

Scotty: All right, we’re going to get it on this plan and it’s looking good. Everyone’s feeling good. A couple of changes.

Male: Last day, man. I’m super pumped, super keen. The vibe is good. We want to go and run hard today. I can feel this record happening.

Male: We got the green light. Everyone started stacking up.

Male:  I was feeling better off from the exit.

Male: Okay, ready. Set. Go.

Male:  By the time I flew into the base, it was already building quite well. I could see on the other side of the base, there was a few people flying around and I started getting worried thinking, “Oh, shit. It’s going to be another one of those jumps.” It started building really smoothly and I realized that we had a lot of time left and then finally, it got built and then it was like everything just lied down. Everything went quiet.

Scatty: I looked over at Mickey and I was like, “Yes, we’ve got it,” and he was looking back at me and then we were just like, “Yes.” You could just see people’s heads start nodding and it was just a golden moment that we’ve been waiting for we.

Female: We all had a unanimous decision that you guys are successful.

Male: All the hard work, all the organizing lit up.

Male: You do it because you love it and that’s it. For me, this is what I love. It’s my passion and the same as everybody else on that record. This is what we do. It’s what we love and that’s the end of the story.

Will Pesek: The adrenaline rush goes away. Maybe try bowling or something. I don’t know.