Red Devil’s parachute fails to open during airshow – Watch

Red Devil's parachute fails to open during airshow - Watch

A Red Devil parachutist had a lucky escape after his chute failed to open during an airshow – leaving a team-mate to catch him in mid-air and bring him to safety.

Corporal Mike French, 34, was plummeting to the ground during a display at the Whitehaven Air Show in Cumbria when his device failed.

His life was saved by another team member, Corporal Wayne Shorthouse, 32, who managed to catch up with him and control his descent.

The pair then came down into Whitehaven’s Queens Dock where they were picked up by an inflatable safety boat.

One witness, Sarah David wrote on Facebook: “(It) was awful watching them struggling, especially when they veered off course – until we realised they were purposely targeting the biggest area of water for ditching in to.”

Melanie Ryden added: “We felt sick watching them tangled together and falling so fast. So relieved they landed in the water and were unhurt. Well done guys.”

Pictures showed one of the men, dressed in the team’s distinctive red outfit, appearing to grab the collapsed parachute of another man below him.

A message later posted on the air show’s Facebook page, said: “We can confirm that the Red Devil parachutists are both safe and sound.

“For the first time in 25 years they had a parachute fail.

“One team member caught his teammate and brought him into Queens Dock.

“Our safety procedures worked perfectly and a huge thank you to Whitehaven Marina for getting them out of the water so quickly.”

Cpl Shorthouse, of Plymouth, is the team’s display coordinator and has made more than 1,350 jumps while Cpl French, from Cumbria, has completed more than 1,500 jumps and is a tandem coordinator, according to the Red Devils website.

Former Red Devil Mark Hunt told Sky News that the two may have been trying to fly side by side before joining together before “something went a bit wrong”.

He added: “That guy on top, that parachute is designed for one person and one person only and he’s got two people hanging on it and he did well to get it into that water to land it.

“He’s hanging on with his leg and his hands he’s holding whatever that lad weighs – 14 or 15 stone – without a shadow of a doubt, if he’d dropped him from that height (and) the parachute wouldn’t have opened, he’d have broken some bones or been killed.”

The Red Devils, which is made up of elite members of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment, formed in 1963.

It has a similar function to the RAF’s Red Arrows and carries out more than 60 displays every year.

It currently comprises of 12 serving soldiers from the three battalions of the Paras, all of whom have to have at least three years experience.

An Army spokesman said the incident was being investigated.