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Skydivers plunging 10,000 feet onto tower off NC coast part of extreme sports event

A series of “outrageous” sports events are set to be live streamed off the coast of North Carolina in June, including skydivers plummeting 10,000 feet onto a platform atop the old U.S. Coast Guard site known as Frying Pan Tower.

Tower owner Richard Neal told The Charlotte Observer the event will take place June 10-15 and the skydivers will be joined by Olympic divers and free divers, all of whom will participate in events that range from risky to dangerous.

As a result, the tower 34 miles off North Carolina will be encircled by rescue boats, scuba divers and paramedics during the affair, he said.

About 20 athletes from around the country will be involved, Neal said.

“I would call this an extreme sports demonstration,” said Neal, 58, who bought Frying Pan Tower in 2010 to preserve it.

“This is not about how crazy we can be. It will be safe, but it’s their (the athletes’) call if they feel safe enough to do it. We just need to have measures in place if the sky divers don’t actually hit the tower and they get stuck on the side, or in the water.”

The tower began posting details of the event March 16 on Facebook, asking “which is more outrageous?

  • Sky divers will be jumping from 10,000 feet above and trying to land in the 80-foot by 80-foot helipad in the middle of the tower, according to the Facebook post.
  • Olympic high divers will jump into the ocean from three different perches on the tower: One 65 feet over the ocean, one 90 feet and one 130 feet.
  • Free divers will start from the ocean surface below the tower and are expected to retrieve items off the bottom, 55 feet below, while holding their breath, Neal said.

All competitions will being filmed with GoPro action cameras and will be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube, Neal said.

Built in 1964, the tower was originally the U.S. Coast Guard’s Frying Pan Light Station. It became obsolete when GPS navigation was adopted, and was auctioned off in 2010 to the highest bidder, which was Neal.

The tower served as a bed and breakfast inn for decades, but was declared a nonprofit devoted to research last year. Neal has been selling shares of the tower to pay for preservation.

Last year, the tower earned national attention when TV stations across the country began broadcasting video from the site during the height of Hurricane Florence.

A U.S. flag on the tower became a viral sensation, as viewers across the country watched it being ripped to pieces by the storm’s 100 mph winds.

The flag was later auctioned off for more than $10,000 last year on eBay, the Charlotte Observer reported. The money was donated to the Red Cross.

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