DENVER (CBS4) – Was it a difficult night-time skydiving jump with feet on fire into swirling winds and cheering crowds?
Among the dozens of fireworks displays in the metro area on July 4, several strange hovering lights over Sports Authority Field at Mile High sparked some suspicion that UFOs paid a visit.
But the show was relatively pedestrian — just a handful of skydivers, with pyrotechnics sparking from their shoes, who jumped into the Denver Outlaws game on Friday night.
“It’s kind of funny. We know exactly what it was,” Nate Banton, the operations manager at Mile-Hi Skydiving, said. “People have photos and videos and they say, ‘What do you think this was?’ And we say, ‘Yeah, it was us.’ It is always an interesting feeling when people are reporting UFOs and trying to figure out what they saw — and you know it was you.”
UFOs or not, Banton said it’s still a sight to see.
“Night-time jumps are a little more intense because of the added factor of the city lights,” he said. “They make everything look really cool and give you a different perspective of the city. And then with the pyrotechnics, you got the wiring and you have to be careful moving around. That’s on top of the added difficulty of jumping into a stadium.”
Banton said landing in a stadium — at night no less — is a bit more harrowing because most stadiums have wires near the rim. And then there are the wind gusts: “The wind tends to whirl around inside like a toilet bowl,” and the winds at the rim are significantly different than the winds at the ground, adding difficulty.
“It is definitely an intense jump,” Banton said.
Skydiver Justin Thornton was wearing a GoPro cam that captured a first-person view of the jump that the company posted to Youtube.
The pyrotechnics are attached to a metal bracket to the skydivers’ feet. After they leave the plane, they can light them via a wired control box once in freefall or when their chutes open.
This isn’t the first time, Banton recalls, one of his company’s jumps fueled fear that little green men were near. During a jump into a Denver Broncos game a few years ago, he said he heard approximately 1,000 911 calls were made by people who wondered about the skydivers.
“This is the second or third time I’ve seen it become a news story,” said Banton, who was jumping at a fireworks display in Thornton the same night.
Banton said he suspects Friday’s jump generated more suspicion of UFOs because people were already looking skyward — for the fireworks.
“The difference in motion caught most people’s attention,” Banton said. That motion — the appearance that the skydivers are hovering when they’re actually falling quickly — is caused by the considerable distance at which the viewers see the skydivers.
– Written by Tim Skillern for CBSDenver.com