Ashik jumps off plane with national flag

Ashik Chowdhury freefalling through the air holding the Bangladeshi national flag.Courtesy of Ashik Chowdhury

There’s a separate aircraft hangar at Wings Field airbase in Memphis of the US state of Tennessee. Skydivers prepare to board the plane there. National flags of all the countries, citizens of which have skydived from that base till now, are displayed in the hangar. Thanks to Ashik Chowdhury, the red and green national flag of Bangladesh will also be displayed there from now on.

Attempting a world record, Ashik Chowdhury (40) jumped off of an aircraft flying at an altitude of more than 41,000 feet at the Wings Field airbase on this Saturday, 25 May. Spreading wide the national flag of Bangladesh with his hands, he as there in the in the sky . When he reached closer to the altitude of 4,000 feet, he used a parachute to land.  

After completing a successful landing, Ashik Chowdhury told Prothom Alo, “I am feeling really relieved to be able to carry out the feat. Hopefully, it will be a big record for the nation.”

This attempt made by Ashik Chowdhury is named ‘The Highest Ever Skydive with a Flag’. If he comes out successful, he will break two records from The World Air Sports Federation and Guinness World Records. Private sector’s united Commercial Bank or UCB has sponsored this initiative of his while Prothom Alo supported it.

Ashik Chowdhury, before boarding the aircraft.
Courtesy of Ashik Chowdhury

With the first light in Memphis on Saturday morning, Ashik Chowdhury had already reached the airbase. And the day was also cheerful. After reviewing the weather, it was decided to make the jump off of the plane at local time 8:30am.

However, Ashik had to take off one hour prior to attempting the jump. He had to sit tight inside the plane for about an hour wearing oxygen musk to remove all the nitrogen from his body. There four other people on the same plane with Ashik. One of them was Ashik’s photographer and the other three attempted for another record.

The space from 10 to 60 kilometres above the earth’s surface is called the stratosphere. Commercial aircrafts usually fly below the altitude of 35,000 feet. It requires a specialised aircraft to rise above this level. Ashik attempted the record with PIPER Cheyenne Turbo 400LS aircraft. These sort of specialised aircrafts are found at the Wings Field airbase in Memphis. The weather there is also favorable for making this record.

Ashik Chowdhury said, “We’ll have to wait for two more days to get the official information on the exact height I jumped from. The instruments I had on me are with the judges. But the altimeter that I had in my hand shows that I jumped from the altitude of about 42,000 feet from the ground. However in the case of records, it is the altitude from the sea-level that is considered and not the altitude from the ground.”

Ashik Chowdhury
Khaled Sarker

In order to attempt the record, Ashik Chowdhury took a US-bound flight from Bangladesh on the night of 21 May. Then he had practice sessions at the Wings Field airbase in Memphis for two days. Since the weather was favourable, he attempted the record indeed on the predetermined (25 May) schedule.

Ashik said, “While skydiving I had to struggle to maintain the balance for I was holding the flag with both of my hands. Once you start spinning in the air, it becomes really tough to open the parachute on time. This also happened in my turn. Fortunately, I knew the technique of opening the parachute in an emergency so, I was saved this time.”

After the successful attempt, now it’s time to wait for the final announcement of the World Air Sports Federation. A representative of the organisation was present at the airbase on Saturday. They have collected photographs and video footages along with the GPS tracker Ashik had on him. This eye-witness will prepare a report after analysing these data. Then two other neutral judges will verify that and give the final announcement.

Ashik told Prothom Alo that this will take about two weeks. Only after receiving the certificate he will be able to apply for Guinness World Records.

Ashik Chowdhury
Khaled Sarker

Ashik Chowdhury is a banker in profession. He is the associate director of the Real Asset Finance division at Singapore-based multinational The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). Though his office is in Singapore, he spends a significant amount of time in Bangladesh and India every month.

Though he’s originally from Chandpur, Ashik actually grew up in Jashore because of his father’s profession. He completed his schooling and college from Sylhet Cadet College. After finishing his higher secondary certificate exams, he got admitted in the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) at Dhaka University.

Right after graduation, he joined a private financial institution of the country in 2007. During vacations, he used travel for his passion of adventure. He worked in the same organisation till 2011. Then he went to study in the United Kingdom. That’s where he tried skydiving for the first time on 19 September 2012.

After training for a year in the UK, Ashik Chowdhury received his licence as a private pilot. Then he took a long course on skydiving under Thai Sky Adventures company and passed. He earned his skydiving licence last year. With this licence, Ashik can skydive without assistance in any country of the world. And he journey by flying the national flag of Bangladesh at this immense height.

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