LEAPING out of an aeroplane can never be easy but there must have been more butterflies than usual for Corporals Wayne Shorthouse and Mike French, members of the Red Devils.
They parachuted into Toulston Polo Club near Tadcaster in North Yorkshire yesterday, 48 hours after a near-disastrous accident in Whitehaven, Cumbria. The Army is investigating the incident in which Cpl Shorthouse saved Cpl French in mid-air by a team-mate.
The fast-thinking soldier, who was part of the British Army’s freefall parachute display squad, swooped over to catch his struggling team-mate whose parachute had not opened properly. He brought him in to land safety in the water at Queens Dock on the Cumbrian coast. Thousands of anxious onlookers saw the stricken parachutist “violently kicking” and tangled up in his parachute during the Whitehaven Air Show.
An Army spokesman said it was the first time a parachute has failed in 25 years. The spokesman said: “We can confirm that there was an incident during the Whitehaven Air Show, when a member of the Red Devils display team’s parachute failed to open correctly. A team mate assisted in his safe landing, both men were unharmed, and we are now investigating.”
Volunteer Dianne Richardson said it seemed the chutes did originally open, but they became tangled.
Photographer Anna Gowthorpe said: “There was a huge cheer from the crowd when these two guys came in.
“Everyone knew about the Whitehaven incident and there were cheers and clapping when they landed safely.”
Cpl Shorthouse, of Plymouth, is the team’s display coordinator and has made more than 1,350 jumps while Cpl French, from Cumbria, has completed more than 1,500 jumps.