It’s not an everyday solution, but former Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf thinks the only way to give back to the community of professionals that made him who he is is to jump 37,000 from a plane wearing only a wingsuit.
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Most skydivers jump 13,000 feet from a plane and then drift a few feet before drifting to the Earth, but Stumpf falls a record distance of 17.8 miles to the Earth to make his point – raise funds for the Naval Special Warfare community.
The former Navy SEAL who spent 18 years in active service before retirement at age 36 jumps from the altitude attained only by 747s, and then drops for nearly 7 minutes in a rigid hold position, enduring 150 degrees of cold temperature before hitting Earth.
He hit a new record of 18.26 miles this summer. “The jumps are unique in the fact that they are singularly useless and have no meaning,” Stumpf said modestly.
With an oxygen mask to his face, the skydiver serves his community by falling from the troposphere to raise funds. “It was just a pin in the ground that I could use to put a spotlight on me, and then lateral that over to the Foundation.”
Stumpf is a skydiver, base jumper, military free fall instructor, and wingsuit flyer; his parents signed a consent waiver for him to enlist into the Navy SEAL, but he could only be shipped off to basic training when he hit legal age.
Since he was not allowed to pull his stunts in the official military way, he enrolled in a civilian jump school where he accumulated over 500 jumps through the air to be able to get to where he is now. Stumpf has served as a CrossFit trainer and skydiver under the sponsorship of Kill Cliff, an energy drink company owned by a former SEAL he had worked with.
“Most people would probably look at me doing an attempt like that as not reckless, but a little bit on the edge of moderately unqualified,” said Stumpf. “And I probably wouldn’t argue that with them. However, skydiving to me has always been a natural thing. I didn’t feel like I was in danger or outside of my skill level, so I felt comfortable just doing it.”
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Ultimately Stumpf noted that “It’s not about me and it’s not about the jump. I’m not even gonna file for the world record,” and that he is only trying to be useful to the community that made him what he is professionally today.