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Pune skydiver is first civilian woman to execute HALO jump

Sakaal Times 2017-05-21 00:00:00
Pune: Wearing a white jacket with a strip of Indian tricolour on her sleeves from shoulder to wrist, ace skydiver Shital Mahajan added another feather to her 'flying' cap, when she became the first Indian civilian woman to complete a HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) Jump in USA on Saturday.

The Pune skydiver, who has many 'firsts' to her name when it comes to skydiving, and is one of the very few women who are active skydivers in the country, achieved this feat in Davis, California, and is the first woman from India to do so.

Mahajan revealed that there are a few civilian men from India who have done the HALO jump, but no civilian woman has attempted this. Her Facebook update from Davis read, "Did Skydiving from 30,000 ft in minus 35 degree celsius employed the longest free fall in skydiving of life 2 minutes 20 seconds." (sic)

She further adds, "Amazing feeling, fingers got frozen and ear pressurised for some time, but it was worth to get that thrilling experience of skydiving from 30,000 ft with an oxygen mask on."(sic)

She had two practice jumps the day before with the oxygen equipment.

Mahajan, who is the founder of Pheonix Skydiving Academy in Pune, told Sakal Times that though many Indian skydivers from the Armed Forces have done this, a civilian had not attempted this before.

"Men and women from the military in India do such HALO jumps as part of their training. For this, they have to come to USA, as these jumps are not done in India as of now."

What is HALO jump?
HALO jumping is basically done by military personnel and is one of the two techniques of high-altitude military parachuting. In HALO, a skydiver opens the parachute at a low altitude after free-falling for a period of time. The other technique (HAHO) involves the parachutists opening the parachute within a few seconds after jumping off an aircraft.

About Shital Mahajan
* Till now, Shital Mahajan has had 683 jumps to her credit and most of them are from above 13,500 ft, while some are from 18,000 ft with oxygen.
* She was the first woman in the world to perform a maiden parachute jump over the North Pole. She later became the first to execute maiden parachute jumps on North and South pole without practice.
* Her wedding ceremony was carried out in the air in a hot air balloon in 2008.
* She is the first Indian woman skydiving coach and has founded an academy in Pune, Phoenix Skydiving Academy.
* She was awarded the Padma Shri (2011), Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award (2006) and the Shiv Chhatrapati Maharashtra State Sports Special Award (2004-05) for her achievements.