SINGAPORE - For the first time in history, a female Red Lion will dive from the skies over Singapore on National Day.
The Red Lions - the nickname coined in 1996 for the Singapore Armed Forces Parachute Team - are a perennial favourite each year at the parade, which will be held this year at The Float@Marina Bay.
Most of the Red Lions are commandos, but Third Warrant Officer (3WO) Shirley Ng, 35, is a rigger, in charge of packing the parachutes that the commandos use. Each 15kg parachute takes about half an hour to pack.
She said that her five fellow NDP jumpers do not see her any differently. She said: "They call me brother as well!"
As part of her job, she parachutes about once a week and has clocked 280 jumps.
Although her rigging job may sound boring or repetitive, she finds her job fulfilling due to the heavy responsibility placed on her. She said: "As a rigger, the safety of the jumpers is in my hands, so I have to put in my all to make sure that the chutes are packed safely."
Come National Day, she will be packing her own parachute. She will jump 10,000 feet from a Super Puma helicopter onto the floating platform, to cheers of about 27,000 spectators.
While one would expect that the highlight of jumping at Marina Bay would be the extraordinarily scenic view, 3WO Ng said that she is too focused on the job to appreciate the view.
She said: "At 10,000 feet, we have to form a star formation before lining up in a row for the camera to film us. So all I'm thinking of is how to do all this and of the landing ahead."