Skydivers Jump Into the New Year
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Setting a record that can’t be tried again for 1,000 years, 15 parachutists from the United States, Europe and Asia leaped from the old millennium to the new as midnight chimed Sunday, using the world’s tallest skyscrapers as a launch pad.
The leap from Malaysia’s gleaming, nickel-plated Petronas Twin towers, each 1,483 feet tall, was blessed by perfect weather and welcomed with shouts of ``Happy New Year!″ and strains of ``Auld Lang Syne″ from more than 100,000 spectators below.
``What a great New Year!″ cried an exuberant Ed Trick, 38, a carpenter from Petaluma, Calif., one of nine Americans who made the dive. ``It’s all the energy from these people in the crowd.″
The only woman on the team, Brenda McGlynn, 36, of Truckee, Calif., described the minute under her canopy, floating over the Southeast Asian city, as the ``most exciting time of my life.″
``I’m doing this for the women of the world to encourage them to pursue and face their limits,″ McGlynn said.
The parachutists leaped simultaneously from ledges, balconies and window-washing gondolas at 800 feet, 980 feet, and 1,242 feet, about 15 seconds before midnight.
They floated to earth one by one and touched down on Jan. 1, 2001, taking the purist point of view that this is the year the new millennium officially begins, not when 1999 ended.
In addition to jumping from one millennium to another, they claimed to have smashed the record for the most skydivers jumping off a building, which they said was set last year by five in Bangkok, Thailand.
The parachutists made an average of 60 practice jumps since Saturday, and after it was over, they went back up the towers to thrill the crowd with a few more.
``We were relaxed about it,″ said Joe Weber, 32, a plastic surgeon and former Green Beret from Indianapolis. ``We weren’t going to crash into the building, but that’s how we scared the crowd.″
But Avery Badenhop, 38, a Petaluma computer consultant, said a measure of fear is healthy.
``I get scared every time,″ Badenhop said. ``If you’re not scared, you might be stupid. Fear is a good thing. A building like this, you’ve got to respect it.″