Triple 7 Expedition Faces Sleepless Nights and Canceled Flights

January 11, 2023Jenna Biter
Triple 7 Expedition: Miami, Florida

Mike Barker skydives in honor of Navy Cmdr. Robert Ramirez III with his Triple 7 teammates in Clewiston, Florida, Jan. 11, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

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.

Running on only a few hours of sleep in two days and facing a nationwide cancellation of most airline flights, the Triple 7 Expedition’s team of nine special ops vets landed their third skydive in Miami, Florida, just after 11 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

“Sitting in coach, way in the back in those little, tiny American Airlines seats, puts a little hitch in your step, but we got here,” Mike Barker, a retired Navy SEAL and one of the Triple 7 jumpers, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

Since the expedition began in Antarctica on Monday, Barker calculated that he’d slept a total of four hours while hopping first to Chile and then to Miami on commercial flights.

“It’s pretty terrible, but not unbearable,” Barker said. “I’ve been through worse.”

The Triple 7 team is attempting to skydive on all seven continents in seven days, creating a tough-to-beat world record, but logging minimal sleep in the process.

Triple 7 Expedition: Mike Barker and Logan Stark

Triple 7 jumpers Mike Barker and Logan Stark prepare for a skydive at Skydive Spaceland in Clewiston, Florida, Jan. 11, 2023. Photo courtesy of Jariko Denman.

‘We Took a Hard Hit’

As the team crisscrosses the globe, the members hope to raise $7 million for Folds of Honor by drawing eyes and driving money 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.

Team members are dedicating their skydives to honor friends or teammates killed in action. Barker said he had two former SEAL colleagues on his mind on Wednesday.

“I’m jumping for my very good friend Special Operations Master Chief SEAL Lou Langlais,” Barker said.

Langlais was killed on Extortion 17, a CH-47 shot down by Taliban fighters on Aug. 6, 2011. Thirty US service members and one working dog died in the crash, including 17 SEALs, 15 of whom were from the secretive DEVGRU. Operators from the same team had killed Usama Bin Laden just four months earlier. The crash remains the single greatest loss of life for special operations since the Global War on Terror began.

Triple 7 Expedition: Miami, Florida

Triple 7 jumper Logan Stark skydives in Clewiston, Florida, Jan. 11, 2023. Photo courtesy of Logan Stark.

But Miami’s jump, he said, was for a SEAL who died more recently. Cmdr. Robert Ramirez III had just taken over as the commanding officer of California-based SEAL Team 1 when he was found dead in his San Diego County home on Dec. 19, 2022.

“We had a travesty that happened,” Barker said. “A very good friend of mine left us and so, today, we jumped in honor of him — that’s Bobby Ramirez.

“He’s just an outstanding man, commanding officer of SEAL Team 1, just a great American, a great SEAL, a great friend, a great husband, great father,” Barker said. “The community as a whole, of course his family — we took a hard hit.

“We still don’t understand,” Barker said. “But he decided he’s going to meet us on the other side a little later.”

‘Man, It Went Perfect’

Once at the DZ on Wednesday, the jump went smoothly.

“Man, it went perfect,” Barker said. “This place — Skydive Spaceland here just north of Miami — was great. These people are awesome, the plane was great, super-easy drop zone, a lot of support.”

The team even got some aerobatics in.

“I’ve never done this before,” Barker said. “We ended up linking up with our legs, and we’re just doing circles until centrifugal force pulled us apart, and then we went flying across the sky, and then we came back together.

“It was a whole lot of fun,” he said.

‘Perfect Timing’

Completing the Miami skydive was the easiest part of the team’s day. Its flight to Barcelona, Spain, scheduled to take off just after 4 p.m. EST on Wednesday, was canceled in the morning.

A key Federal Aviation Administration system experienced a system-wide outage overnight, grounding flights across the US. The system has been restored, but thousands of flights were delayed or canceled due to the disruption.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my God, of course. Perfect timing,’” Barker said.

But the team secured another flight and is on track to fly to Barcelona on Wednesday night.

Black Rifle Coffee Company, which owns Coffee or Die Magazine, is a sponsor of the Triple 7 Expedition.

Read Next: As Triple 7 Team Jumps Over Chile, a Ranger Remembers a Fallen Comrade

Jenna Biter
Jenna Biter

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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