Four Triple 7 jumpers in freefall over the Giza pyramid complex in Egypt, Jan. 13, 2023. Photo courtesy of Glenn Cowan.
Keep up with Coffee or Die Magazine’s complete coverage of the Triple 7 Expedition’s world-record attempt to skydive on all seven continents in seven days while raising money for Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization supporting Gold Star families.
Freefalling through the blue sky more than 2 miles up, a special ops vet stared down at the apex of the more than 4,000-year-old Great Pyramid rising out of the plateau just beyond the sprawling outskirts of Cairo, Egypt.
Glenn Cowan, a retired Canadian soldier who served with the elite Joint Task Force 2, knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and was determined not to let it go to waste. As he flew under canopy, weaving above the Great Pyramid of Giza, he studied every architectural detail.
“Yeah, there’s a vastness to it, but there was also this granular detail that we were able to pick up,” a still-euphoric Cowan told Coffee or Die Magazine just three minutes after landing. “You can almost see the craftsmanship of the rock and the brick in the individual pyramids, and there’s a flat part on top of the Great Pyramid. We literally had such a close-up that you probably could have counted the number of bricks.”
Triple 7 team members, from left to right, Mike Sarraille, Jariko Denman, Glenn Cowan, and Logan Stark in front of the Giza pyramid complex on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 13, 2023. Photo courtesy of Glenn Cowan.
Everything about the Triple 7 team’s jump over Cairo was exceptional. While most of the team’s other jumps were booked at traditional skydiving facilities, the jump over the ancient structures required months of planning to pull off.
The team landed on a makeshift drop zone just a few hundred yards from the pyramid complex on a golf course. The landing site was so close to the ancient structures that the team flew directly over them.
“We could not have been more directly over top,” Cowan said. “I think at one point in time, Andy Stumpf was probably 200 feet above the apex under canopy. It’s unbelievable.”
Egypt was the team’s fifth stop on their globe-trotting trip, but Cowan said it would stand out in his memory.
“This was the one I was most looking forward to,” he said. “It exceeded expectations by every stretch.”
Cowan said every moment of the jump was infused with meaning, starting with the freefall. While dropping through the air at roughly 100 miles per hour, time seemed to slow, he said, and he felt a sense of connection with fallen comrades.
“I’ve got goosebumps right now,” Cowan said. “Getting into the sky is kind of like touching the heavens, and maybe, just maybe, we were flying with our fallen friends.
“Where are they now? Who knows,” Cowan said. “But I bet you we were just closer to them than anyone else.”
Three Triple 7 team members jumping over the Giza pyramid complex in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 13, 2023. Photo courtesy of Logan Stark.
Cowan is one of nine special ops vets hopping around the globe in pursuit of a skydiving world record to jump on all seven continents in seven days.
After the Egypt jump on Friday, Jan. 13, the team has three days to complete two more skydives to cover all seven continents. The jump over Egypt completed their Africa leg. A jump in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday will add Asia. The seventh and final jump in Perth, Australia, is set for Monday, Jan. 16.
As the team crisscrosses the globe, the members hope to raise $7 million for Folds of Honor by drawing attention and donations to the nonprofit organization. With that amount, Folds of Honor could provide 1,400 scholarships to the families of fallen and wounded veterans and first responders.
But each jumper is also skydiving in honor of a friend or teammate killed in action.
As the only Canadian, Cowan is jumping in honor of Master Cpl. Byron Greff, the last Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Triple 7 jumper Glenn Cowan is skydiving in honor of Master Cpl. Byron Greff, the last Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of Glenn Cowan.
Greff, who served with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct. 29, 2011.
“Immortalized on his headstone are the words: ‘I noticed how beautiful the sky was & then realized it’s because you are up there,’” Cowan said.
“That’s why we’re jumping,” he said.
As the jumpers packed their parachutes on blue-and-gold rugs laid out on the grass, some sized up the pyramids from ground level.
“I think we’re all just taking it in,” Cowan said.
Triple 7 jumpers Glenn Cowan, left, and Mike Sarraille, right, in front of the Giza pyramid complex in Cairo, Egypt, Jan. 13, 2023. Photo courtesy of Glenn Cowan.
The grandeur of the pyramids gave the jumpers pause and, with that, a moment to slow down between all the commercial flights and customs and security lines, and reflect on the “why” behind the expedition.
“I think that’s the power of the Triple 7,” Cowan said. “When you get out of a plane and take that leap, you’re probably as close to the heavens and as close to these guys as we can get, especially because we’re doing something dangerous.
“It adds a level of maybe flirting with seeing them again — not in the literal sense, but more in the spiritual sense of flying as close to the heavens as we can get,” he said.
Black Rifle Coffee Company, which owns Coffee or Die Magazine, is a sponsor of the Triple 7 Expedition.
Jenna Biter is a staff writer at Coffee or Die Magazine. She has a master’s degree in national security and is a Russian language student. When she’s not writing, Jenna can be found reading classics, running, or learning new things, like the constellations in the night sky. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the military? Email Jenna.
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