The Singapore Armed Forces Red Lions parachute team is certainly our national icon, especially during our nation’s annual national day celebration. The parachutists free-falling, floating in the skies and precision landing at the parade venue always bring unspoken joy among the spectators while kickstarting the event celebratory mood.
What it takes to be a Red Lion ?
The basic qualification for a display jumper is a minimum of 500 jumps, with its members selected only from soldiers in the Commandos and the Naval Diving Unit as they are the only formations which are operationally trained in military free-fall. Training is usually conducted on weekends to minimise disruption to operational responsibilities during the work week, as all free-fallers are also full-time servicemen.
The central nucleus supports the display team’s logistical and administrative needs, plan and co-ordinate their training programme. As such, most of them are Parachute Jump Instructors from the Parachute Training Wing
The Red Lions Rehearsal at Marina Bay
The Red Lions team exiting the C130 at 10,000ft during a practise session above the Marina Bay.
The team in ring formation with videographer, fee-falling towards the event venue landing zone.
Formation break just prior parachute deployment. Ivan Low, the team photographer is the 1st to deploy his chute.
Each jumper seeking his/her own chute deployment sector with smoke trails giving a bomb burst effect.
The Red Lions creating “whimsical” smoke trails as they descend toward the Floating Platform landing zone. Some spectators would even picking out heart-shaped trail in the skies.
Always a treat to witness the Red Lions inbound with smoke trailing as they descend into the venue, upping the celebratory mood of the event.
Ong Kah Soon, one of the more experienced jumpers in the team, making the 1st landing on the landing zone.
Melvin Ho landed in smooth running style. Lessen the impact on jumper’s foot when landing too.
Perfect landing by Sim Jin as he touched down gently during the windless practice session.
Landing among build-up venue with high-rise buildings and expressways in the vicinity, the parachutists need to be very precise about where they drop.
Another beautiful landing by Sebastian Lim. Notice the smoke canister at his boot. The canister emits smoke for about over 60s, is biodegradable “cool burning’ non-pyrotechnic smoke. Thick smoke over 60 seconds
Shirley Ng dropped in at the landing zone. Lady jumper tended to “float” a bit more due to lower body weight compared to the male jumper.
In 2014, 3rd Warrant Officer (then) Shirley Ng is the first female Red Lion parachutist to jump at the National Day Parade.
Ivan Low, the final jumper to land, closed the skydive segment in cool running style.
NDP 2021 is much affected by the on-going pandemic. For the first time ever, the official 9th August celebration date has been postponed to 21st August and is a much scaled-down event. But that does not mean the Red Lions team put in any less effort to honour our nation. Their training and work routine are still packed to the brim and are always ready. Let’s hold our heads up high and look forward to a better tomorrow. Together united, we will prevail.
Footnote: All pictures used in this travelogue are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all rights reserved. The opinion expressed is factual, objective and that of the author.