Larry Connor is back. This time with a parachute jump world record

It’s true.

Larry Connor is back.

Earlier this year, the founder and managing partner of real estate firm Connor Group in Miami Twp., local philanthropist, sports adventurer, and ardent basketball supporter Dayton Flyers piloted the first all-private mission (called Axiom 1) to Station international space.

Last year he completed three dives to the deepest depths of the planet’s oceans – descending to 35,856 feet in the Marianna Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

For decades he piloted cars, all-terrain vehicles, airplanes, climbed some of the highest mountains in the world and rafted around the globe.

This time, he and the four USAF Pararescue jumpers he joined attempted to set two world records with their HALO (high altitude, low opening) jumps, or, as they are otherwise known, military free falls.

Think of those jaw-dropping scenes of James Bond in “Tomorrow Never Dies” or Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible Fallout.”

Or there are moments you’ve never seen: clandestine special forces land in Laos during the Vietnam War, in Afghanistan just after 9/11 or in Somalia to free hostages taken by pirates.

Although it wasn’t a silver screen or a salvage business, Connor’s HALO jump ended the same way as the others.

At low altitude—his own at around 3,500 feet—his parachute finally opened.

And he didn’t do it just once. Counting training and preliminary efforts, he estimated he had made 21 jumps.

He set one, which will soon be an officially verified world record. At 72 – although still 36 – he became the oldest person to perform a HALO jump.

The other world record eluded the group although they landed the jump they wanted.

They were trying to break the highest altitude training record. Connor and two others jumped out of the plane in unison, each holding the other’s arms. Then two more skydivers jumped behind them, continued their freefall formation, and managed to link arms for a brief five-person setup.

They had an official judge certified by the Guinness Book of World Records on hand, but it was later discovered that another group had performed the 33,000ft formation jump seven years earlier, although they did not. have not registered with Guinness.

“So we’re going to come back in May and do it again – this time from 34,000 feet – and get the record,” Connor said. “We will not be deterred.”

Find new challenges

HALO jumps were first developed in the 1960s for military use as a means of transporting personnel, equipment and supplies. To minimize risk, transport aircraft are flown at high altitude above surface-to-air missile engagement levels in enemy skies.

There are special challenges for jumpers. At high altitudes, the partial pressure of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere is low, which can lead to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen reaching body tissues.

At altitudes like the 34,000 feet that Connor predicted for May, temperatures can be minus 50 degrees and jumpers can suffer frostbite if not properly protected.

Although he made a few attempts at skydiving nearly 30 years ago, Connor knew little about Special Forces Pararescue operators who do HALO jumps until he trained for the Ax-I mission. in the space.

“God forbid, something went wrong and we had to deorbit and we ended up with what NASA called an unsupported landing,” Connor said. “We could end up off the coast of Africa, and those guys would have been the ones who came for us.

“As part of our training, they put us in a fake capsule and stuck us 10 miles off the coast of Florida in the middle of the ocean. These guys came in a C-130, bailed out the rear with all their gear, hit the ocean and came our way.

The next thing Connor knew, he was being lifted 150 feet into a waiting helicopter. He was impressed with the team, spoke to the CEO of the Florida-based company – Operator Solutions – and soon this latest project took hold.

As for those who think Connor is tempting fate, he insists he isn’t:

“It’s anything but a daredevil and risky business, because if it were, I wouldn’t be doing it. I think you can manage the risk and that’s what we did here.

But later in our chat, Conner admitted that before joining that company he had looked at another one: “But they had a guy killed last year…so that wasn’t a good endorsement .”

The only problem he had this time came from the landing.

“You don’t just fall,” he said. “With these parachutes, you kind of dive into a landing. And when you hit the ground, you kind of exhaust it.

“My problem was that I had injured my leg the week before. And this time I grabbed my leg as I tried to pull it out and tore my adductor (groin) muscle.

“It’s a pretty big tear and it was painful, but I’m doing rehab every day now and should be healed in eight to 12 weeks.”

With that in mind, one of his close friends had a question:

‘Was it worth it?’

Connor smiled, “I said, ‘Absolutely! “”

“I just think it’s a state of mind”

Connor said someone else recently asked, “Why are you doing this?”

His response: “Why not? The first step is to believe that there is a possibility that you can do it.

“I think too many people set too many imposed limits. They spend too much time talking about what they can’t do rather than what they could do.

As for keeping age at bay, Connor said: “I just think it’s a state of mind. I chose not to think about it and I’m sure I’m not using it as an excuse. I think when you stop fully engaging with life is when you start dying.

“The way I see it, I try to live one life every five years.”

And right now, his life is pretty full. Along with his family and business — which is growing with an additional 22,000 square feet of office space, another aircraft hangar and 35-40 other jobs — his new school, The Greater Dayton School, opened this fall as the first non-religious private school. school ever built in Ohio to teach underprivileged children exclusively.

It is holding classes for the first 85 students at a temporary site on South Wilkinson Street in downtown Dayton until the new school, built at Deeds Point, is complete, likely in 14 months.

“I truly believe this will be a game-changing endeavor where we show that when underfunded children are given an equal playing field – when they are given the resources they need from a teacher’s perspective and from a learning – they can perform just as well, if not better than any other peer group.

“And I’ll bet literally any amount of money that 10 years from now this will be the model of what you can do in any community in America.”

As for him, once he’s finished rehab, he’ll begin preparations for that HALO world record jump.

And then there’s a possibility that in a year or two he could fly another longer mission to the International Space Station.

But that’s in the future and before he left his office for rehab, he wanted to talk about something more immediate:

Dayton Flyers basketball.

The season opens in two days and, as always, he has front-row subscriptions just behind the UD bench.

He knows the team well and there was a hint of excitement in his voice as he offered:

“It could be a very good year. I can not wait to be there.

So much for the sunsets. It was an early sunrise.

As he said, “The first step is to believe.”

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