Red Devils parachutist rescued in midair after chute fails to open

Marilyn Malara

LONDON, June 20 (UPI) -- Two members of the Red Devils Freefall Display team were involved in what could have been a tragic accident at the Whitehaven Air Show Friday night. Fortunately, after one member's parachute became tangled, the other steered them both to safety.

Thousands of eyewitnesses at the event on the Cumbrian coast in northern England watched helplessly from the ground when the British Army parachutist flailed his legs after his first parachute seemed to have failed. He was too close to the ground to deploy his backup chute.


Many onlookers took photos and video as a second stuntman came to his aid from above.

"It was obvious the top jumper was wrapping his legs around the ropes of the parachutist below," an official photographer for the event, Brian Sherwen, told CNN. "His legs were carrying the weight of the man below and his tangled parachute."

"The top guy was obviously in control and was trying to find a safe area to land. They were falling down at least twice as fast as the other people who were jumping with them," he said.

After the incident, the air show released a brief statement on Facebook updating concerned citizens on the status of those involved. "We can confirm that the Red Devil parachutists are both safe & sound," it read. "For the first time in 25 years they had a parachute fail."


"As the team train for most eventualities they continued with a semi controlled descent into a clear piece of water where the rescue services we had on standby were called into action," an update posted Saturday read. "[The rescue services were] literally on the scene within seconds of splashdown."

"Once again neither of the team were injured and we would like to thank them for their skill and professionalism that we take for granted with all of the British Armed Forces," it concluded.

I would just like to take the time to clarify what happened with the Red Devils yesterday evening. All the parachutes...

Posted by Whitehaven Airshow 2015 on Saturday, June 20, 2015

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