Skydivers Launch Off the World's Longest Swing

Two hot air balloons, a 410-foot swing and a parachute. Sound like an interesting recipe?
By Tarquin Cooper

Take four skydivers, two hot air balloons, a 410-foot-long rope with a seat on the end, climb to 5,900 feet and this is what you get: Mega Swing, the result of an idea to make the world's longest swing.

"We just wanted to go bigger," says Austrian Marco Waltenspiel, who with fellow skydivers Georg Lettner, Marco Fürst and Dominic Roithmair made this project happen.

A skydiver tries out the world's biggest rope swing, hung between two hot air balloons high above the earth in Austria
Not your average kindergarten swing. © Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool

"You have this acceleration in another direction, unlike anything you'd experience with a normal BASE jump or skydive," says Roithmair, who came up with the idea. "You jump, freefall, waiting for the moment when the line goes tight, then suddenly there's this non-motorized acceleration. I can't think of a freefall that had such different patterns of movement."

The idea behind Mega Swing was to realize that childhood dream we all have," says Lettner. "It's everyone's dream to swing higher and higher, and finally jump off and fly."

"We were initially all a little skeptical about whether it would work at all," adds Waltenspiel. "But it was just perfect in the end."

The most unique part of the stunt was the lack of noise. "If you're in an airplane or helicopter, you always have that noise around you. Here you only hear from the burner," said Roithmair. "Even the rocking is very special. You hear only the wind at the end of the pendulum, it's actually very quiet."

To pull off the stunt was a major logistical challenge. The team required not just perfect weather, but expert hot air balloon pilots. The two balloons had to be exactly at the right distance apart to have the perfect tension in the swing before making the jump.

As for the hardest part? "Staying on board the swing," says Roithmair.

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