Skydivers go extra 2.46-mile to celebrate UAE National Day

Kelly Clarke
December 3, 2015, Khaleej Times

They fly UAE flag from the highest point ever.

While most of us waved a flag or decorated our cars in celebration of the UAE National Day, four UAE residents went that extra mile – or extra 13,000 feet (2.46 miles) to be precise – to pay tribute to the country on its 44th anniversary.

Ascending 13,000ft into the blue sky above Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah, Latifa Al Maktoum, Daniel Hernan and Dani Roman from Skydive Dubai’s Wing Suit team jumped from their small propeller plane in a bid to fly the UAE’s flag the highest it has ever flown.

With their wing suits in tow – and a parachute for landing – the daring threesome went into free-fall for about two minutes after making the impressive leap.

Stitched into each suit was a free flowing UAE flag – a first for the UAE and the world – and alongside the trio was Skydive Dubai photographer, Juan Mayer, who captured every second of the awe-inspiring feat.

Mayer, who has more than 9,000 jumps under his belt, dove, twisted and free-fell alongside his colleagues, snapping each and every adrenalin-pumped moment.

“It was totally different to what we’ve done before. It was a challenge but I loved it,” he told Khaleej Times on Wednesday.

Last year, the team performed a similar stunt where the wing suits adorned the colours of the UAE flag. But this time around, Latifa came up with the idea of actually stitching a free flowing flag to the bottom of the suit.

“It was something no one had done before, so naturally we were keen,” Mayer said. “It was difficult to capture the right shot because the flag was controlled by the wind but in certain positions, when the wind caught the flag just right, it looked fantastic.”

Because of the intricate nature of the jump, Mayer and the team performed several formations – and about 30 jumps – over a four-day period ahead of the UAE National Day.

“Because of the long free-fall time, we practiced different formations to get the best image. We had to do it ahead of time so we could get the images and video ready for today’s National Day.”

And that they did.

Onlookers below were captivated by the sea of red, green, white and black trailing behind the skilled jumpers. What better way to salute a nation that has been independent for 44 years, Mayer said.

“I love projects like this. We can try different things and be more creative, it’s fantastic.”

After the trio successfully completed their jumps, Latifa ascended back up into the sky again and made her way back down to earth flying a second giant UAE flag.

Clutching it in her hands, with the backdrop of the Palm Jumeirah below her, Mayer clicked several impressive shots of the jumper and flag – which dwarfed Latifa’s small frame.

“We’re showing some love from the sky to the UAE in celebration of the 44th anniversary. Happy National Day everyone,” Mayer said.

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