The jump from the top of the Burj Khalifa
“The Burj Khalifa is designed so that the wind spirals upwards and diffuses off the top of the building,” says Alan Gayton, the GM at Skydive Dubai. “This creates a vortex and was the biggest challenge we had to work around last week. We monitored this very carefully and had two aborted attempts where we didn’t feel the conditions were exactly right.
“We spent three years planning the operation and performed many practise jumps from helicopters at the exact altitude so we could work on the descent trajectory. There were many other challenges to consider too. For instance, not many people know this, but the last 200 metres up to the top of that spike is all done via ladders – you don’t just go up in a lift. And we somehow had to get a purpose-built platform built out there. We also had to know exactly where the sun would be in relation to Vince and Fred so that we didn’t get reflections off the building as we filmed their descent. There were 19 cameras and two helicopters there on the day as we didn’t want to miss one bit of the action.
“The end result was effortless. Skydive Dubai came up with a logistical plan that worked to perfection. Fred and Vince have been working together for 16 years and have 10,000 jumps under their belts, so we had a great team whose absolute first priority was safety. Every eventuality was covered and we’re very happy with the outcome.
“I work for H.H. Sheikh Hamdan [Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of Dubai Sports Council] and he’s been right behind this project. He’s a real visionary who pushes the idea and our message: skydiving and Dubai. We represent Dubai and we do it the biggest, the best and in the most beautiful way.”