From left to right, Triple 7 team members Logan Stark, Jariko Denman, and Glenn Cowan prepare for a skydive on a training trip from Dec. 5 through 7, 2022, to Complete Parachute Solutions in Coolidge, Arizona. Legacy Expeditions photo.
Coolidge, Ariz. — A ground crew member tipped his head back and searched the sky for parachutes.
More than a mile up, the Triple 7 Expedition jump team was falling toward earth. One by one, canopies ballooned against the wide Arizona sky — orange, blue, gray, red.
Within seconds, eight parachutes were inflated, and the jumpers turned to fly toward the 50-meter patch of grass.
On cue, the ground crewman sprinted to a line of smoke canisters laid out in the dirt. He pulled a pin on each and stepped back. Red smoke billowed into the air.
Above, the jumpers reacted, maneuvering to avoid flying over the smoke, setting up their landing patterns parallel to the red clouds.
Triple 7 team skydiving record: Mike Barker (1920x1280, AR: 1.50)
Retired Navy SEAL Mike Barker prepares to land on a training trip to Coolidge, Arizona, one month before the Triple 7 Expedition starts in January 2023. Legacy Expeditions photo.
Smoke is often used at desert drop zones like Coolidge to warn jumpers of dust devils swirling across a landing area. But for the Triple 7 team, it was a key part of the early December rehearsal.
The next time the team would jump together would be over Antarctica. There, floating above a landscape of unbroken, featureless ice, fixing on a cloud of red smoke might be the key to finding a way safely to the ground.
In early January, a team of former special operators and skydiving veterans will attempt to rewrite the record book for skydiving expeditions. Just after New Year’s, the Triple 7 Expedition plans to jump into Union Glacier Camp, Antarctica, a remote base open only three months out of the year on the world’s harshest continent.
Once on the ground, the Triple 7 jumpers will launch into a breakneck global race to become the first team to skydive on all seven continents in seven days.
As they scramble between continents, the jumpers plan to set world records. But, more importantly, the team aims to raise millions of dollars for Folds of Honor, a US nonprofit that provides thousands of scholarships annually to Gold Star families.
Former Recon Marine and retired Navy SEAL Mike Sarraille walks with his parachute in Coolidge, Arizona, December 2022. Legacy Expeditions photo.
Nearly all the Triple 7 jumpers are veterans of the US special operations community, including the man who dreamed it up. Mike Sarraille is a former Recon Marine and retired Navy SEAL who now runs the adventure firm Legacy Expeditions with Andy Stumpf.
Sarraille began to think about jumping on seven continents in seven days after an ambitious trip in 2021: He jumped into five of the world’s highest drop zones in the Himalayas in 15 days.
“We raised $200,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and we also dedicated those jumps to the guys of Extortion 17,” Sarraille said. “And that was sort of the first trip for Legacy Expeditions.”
In 2022, Sarraille and Stumpf, himself a retired SEAL and a world record-holding wingsuiter, completed 16 skydives in Iceland to honor fallen service members and again raise money for SOWF.
But the Triple 7 jumps will be a new level for the pair.
The Triple 7 team debriefs after a skydive at Complete Parachute Solutions in Coolidge, Arizona, in December 2022. Legacy Expeditions photo.
“This is the biggest,” Sarraille said. “I think this is going to give us some gravitas, some momentum to start getting more veterans on these trips, and to feel that camaraderie again.”
Triple 7’s team of 10 veterans — nine jumpers and one tandem passenger — includes three other former SEALs, Mike Barker, Erik Prince, and Fred Williams.
The team’s tandem master is Nick Kush, a retired Navy explosive ordnance disposal tech who spent nearly all of his career in the naval special warfare world. His tandem passenger will be 73-year-old former Marine Jim Wigginton.
Wigginton has already jumped as a passenger on all seven continents, completing his first go in about six months.
Retired Army Ranger Jariko Denman, former Marine Corps scout sniper Logan Stark, and retired Canadian special operator Glenn Cowan round out the expedition team.
Denman and Stark work for Black Rifle Coffee Company, which is a major sponsor of the Triple 7 Expedition and owns Coffee or Die Magazine.
The Triple 7 team's tandem master Nick Kush completes a skydive with Jim Wigginton as his passenger at Coolidge, Arizona, Dec. 6, 2022. Legacy Expeditions photo.
While Triple 7’s team of 10 veterans will do the jumping, about 15 medical, research, and operations personnel will support the record attempt, tracking health metrics and troubleshooting travel issues, like commercial flight changes.
A documentary team led by Dan Myrick of The Blair Witch Project will also follow the expedition.
Triple 7 could be called “Quadruple 7.” The expedition team is attempting seven continents, seven skydives, in seven days, to raise $7 million for Folds of Honor.
Cowan, the only Canadian on the team, told Coffee or Die that the trip’s appeal is both the adventure and the purpose.
“I think I’m most looking forward to representing the vision, representing what this stands for, the sense of accomplishment of actually pulling it off,” Cowan said. “The world record I could personally care less about — that’s nice to have. I think it’s just bringing awareness, raising money for Folds.”
Former Canadian special operator Glenn Cowan prepares for a skydive in Arizona, December 2022. Legacy Expeditions photo.
Larry Robinson, Folds of Honor’s vice president of development, told Coffee or Die that the nonprofit only has one mission.
“It’s to provide educational scholarships to the spouses and children of wounded and fallen service members, as well as first responders,” Robinson said.
Each Folds of Honor scholarship rings up to a maximum of $5,000. But Robinson likes to think of the impact in terms of lives changed rather than the money raised.
“Obviously, we’re doing this to fund some scholarships,” Robinson said. “More than that is to do seven continents in seven days and raise $7 million and change 1,400 lives.”
The trip will begin when the team gathers on New Year’s Eve in Punta Arenas, Chile. From there, the veterans will travel to Antarctica. The clock for the world record will start with their first jump, planned for Jan. 9.
The Triple 7 team will wear these hand-painted helmets on their skydiving expedition in January 2023. Legacy Expeditions photo.
That’s where the red smoke will come back into play.
“Everything will be white,” said Kush, the team’s tandem master.
Antarctica offers a unique challenge for jumpers. Visually, the drop zone sits on a cue-ball-like glacier with no trees or landmarks to gauge distance. The ice-covered ground can be so smooth that even experienced jumpers may not realize how high they are.
To give the jumpers a clear target to focus on and indicate wind direction and speed, the ground crew will set off smoke canisters. In Arizona, the crew popped smoke as a trial run, so the jumpers know what to look for when they descend on Antarctica.
From Antarctica, the Triple 7 team will fly to Santiago, Chile, to jump into South America. Next, the expedition will head to Miami, Florida, for North America; then Barcelona, Spain, for Europe; and Cairo, Egypt, for Africa.
Retired Navy explosive ordnance disposal tech Nick Kush and the other Triple 7 team members assemble before a skydive at Coolidge, Arizona, December 2022. Legacy Expeditions photo.
There the team plans to jump over the Egyptian pyramids, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Then the jumpers will head to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the skydive in Asia.
“I feel like it could be done in five days if we had private aircraft, right?” Kush said. But he said funding the cost for private flights wasn’t feasible, so the team will rely on commercial travel.
“It’s a big ask,” Kush said. “The great thing is, if it’s hard for us, it’d be hard for anybody else.”
From the UAE, the Triple 7 team’s last leg will be in Perth, Australia.
“There are going to be highs and lows behind the whole thing,” Kush said. “But I think it’s going to be a remarkable experience in hindsight, you know, overcoming the challenges, overcoming a little bit of anticipation, fear.”
The team will cap the trip with a celebratory eighth jump in Tampa, Florida.
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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