It wasn't the largest skydiving formation ever completed in the United States, but a jump a Windsor Township man was part of late last month set a record of its own kind.
Scott Lazarus, 38, was one of 11 parachutists to complete five formations in the sky over Florida as they floated to the ground.
That set a national record for the most formations successfully completed in a single jump, according to the United States Parachute Association, which promotes competition and record-setting programs.
"It's a part of the sport that requires an attention to detail, and it makes you have to think fast," Lazarus said in phone interview Monday.
The jump: Lazarus and the 10 other skydivers completed the record-setting jump on April 27 over the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales.
After disembarking the plane at 13,000 feet, the parachutists deployed their chutes and guided themselves into position, holding on to other skydivers' parachutes with their arms and legs, the USPA announced in a news release.
That was the first formation complete.
After that, they completed the task four more times, setting the record for the most multiple canopy formations in a single jump, their first attempt.
The close-knit group of nine male and two female skydivers came from Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania to take part.
"It was not necessarily the largest jump I was part of," Lazarus said.
Big idea: Lazarus said the jump was the brainchild of Florida skydiving enthusiast Bob Edmiston, who has 10 years of jumping under his belt.
But that jump was months in the making, Lazarus said.
The team had been practicing for two months before they took the big leap.
And not all those jumps went off without a hitch.
During one jump, Lazarus said, two skydivers' canopy cords got tangled and they had to cut away from their main chutes and rely on their reserve parachutes.
"It's not your preferred way of getting to the ground," he said.
Hobby to job: Lazarus got into skydiving seven years ago when he was working at a restaurant. A customer told Lazarus about a tandem jump she did and urged him to try it.
Not wanting to jump with another person, Lazarus took a training course at Maytown Sport Parachute Club in Lancaster County, made his first jump that day and was hooked.
Now he's making a living in a sport that started as a hobby for him. Lazarus is a skydiving instructor, videographer and photographer and works on rigging and repairing parachutes for other jumpers.
He also does demonstrations and is heading to China in a few weeks to do demonstrations at an air show.
Lazarus said he recognizes the dangers of parachuting, which lie mainly with those who base jump — leaping from a tall stationary object, such as a building.
But for those who leap from good old-fashioned working airplanes, it's a pretty safe sport, he said.
"It's not as dangerous as people think it is to be," Lazarus said.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.