Sean MacCormac chased the thunderstorm right through the clouds. Board strapped to his feet, the pro skydiver jumped into a classic summertime thunderstorm boiling over central Florida.
Although it looked akin to a death wish, this dive was 25 years in the making.
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Last week, MacCormac jumped out of an aircraft 10,000 feet above a central Florida and proceeded to "surf" the clouds. Lightning flashed around him as he sped toward the ground at speeds between 120 and 130 mph. One bolt was about a quarter mile away, he explained online.
His previous storm jump happened in the mid-1990s, when MacCormac was a young maverick who challenged a former Vietnam War pilot to drop him on the edge of one. Now 41, the medal-winning pro and Red Bull Air Force member has racked up more than 20,000 jumps in calmer weather.
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The project in Florida involved careful planning. An experienced pilot flew the single-engine Cessna Caravan plane and fellow Red Bull Air Force member Jon DeVore captured images. For safety, the team relied on meteorological data from weather service provider UBIMET, according to project sponsor Red Bull.
"I think getting hit by lightning is random," MacCormac said online. "It is not as intense as your fear would have you believe." Duly noted.
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Getting struck by lightning is actually near the top of my own personal fear list. This summer it almost happened, too. Fortunately an enormous tree outside took the hit instead. You'd think I'd be feeling protected now, but seeing the damage up close only made me more aware of the danger.
After all the prep, MacCormac's jump was still a leap of faith. He compared it to heading into a minefield that could pop off at any time. Check out his incredible storm skysurfing here: