Octogenarian mayor completes world record skydive

Reigate and Banstead mayor and Horley town councillor David Powell doing his second world record breaking sky dive in August 2016 - picture submitted
Reigate and Banstead mayor and Horley town councillor David Powell doing his second world record breaking sky dive in August 2016 - picture submitted

A Horley councillor has become a triple world record holder and raised £8,000 for charity by doing a 30,000ft skydive for the second time.

David Powell, who is also the mayor for Reigate and Banstead, is the oldest person to undertake the feat, the first mayor to do it and the only person in the world to go back and do the challenge for a second time.

“The prayers worked. I had a crash landing. I hit the ground flat down, but the amazing thing was that I wasn’t hurt.”

He already held the record for the oldest person to do it after his first jump two years ago and can be sure of his records because flew with the only instructor in the world who is licenced to skydive from 30,000ft with civilians.

The 80-year-old said: “I was very relaxed and calm. I wanted to go and do it again, but I’ve got to wait. I’m going to do it in two years. I’m mad aren’t I?

“I loved it. This time was different. Last time the sky was absolutely clear. I could see the curve of the planet and the outline of everything on the ground. This time the sky was full of clouds. When I came out of the door there was this wonderful scene 20,000ft below, this white fluffy carpet.

“It was quite an amazing experience and different from the first time. You are just falling through thick fog.

“I wasn’t shaking violently this time, which I think was the direction of the wind. It was a smooth ride and a great feeling of flying without wings.”

He was free-falling at about 300mph for just a couple of minutes and once the cord is pulled, it takes about seven or eight minutes to touch down.

He said: “The free falling feels like an hour because so much is passing you so fast you are just trying to take it in.”

As a committed Christian, Cllr Powell asked his chaplain, the Horley team vicar, Rev Naomi Ngururi to put a request for prayer to the town’s churches.

He said: “The prayers worked. I had a crash landing.

“I hit the ground flat down, but the amazing thing was that I wasn’t hurt. It didn’t even knock it out of me. That was the prayers being answered.”

He was doing the challenge in aid of the Royal British Legion and has so far raised more than £80,000.

He said: “Dame Judy Dench sponsored me for £1,000. She was very encouraging.

“She’s a big supporter of the Legion and very supportive of me doing it. I met her about three or four weeks ago. She’s a wonderful lady.

“I raised £7,000 two years ago and I didn’t think I would pass it this time.”

He did the challenge in America and just a few days after getting back to the UK, he went to Portsmouth to abseil down the 300ft Spinnaker Tower for the YMCA.

And he is not giving up. As well has having his eyes set on his third skydive in 2018, he is looking for another challenge for next year.

He said: “I want something that’s doable I didn’t consider walk from the east coast to the west coast but because I’ve got severe arthritis in my spine. It would be doing 15 miles one day and 15 the next day. I might come up with something different.

“I really enjoyed the abseil. I was told I came down the fastest because I had a good technique. I don’t mind coming off some sort of natural feature as long as it’s higher than 300ft.”

There is still time to sponsor him either by going to his webpage at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/David-Percy-Powell or sending a cheque to The Mayor, Reigate and Banstead Town Hall, Castlefield Road, Reigate, RH2 0SH. Please make them payable to ‘The Royal British Legion’.