split image of KEBE skysurfing and performing helicopter spins

Jumping out of a plane thousands of feet above the ground (even with a parachute) would be terrifying for many.

But for KĒBĒ Keith Edward Snyder (USA), this freefall isn't terrifying at all. For him, it’s almost tranquil.

KĒBĒ is one of the few skysurfers in the world – people who take the pursuit of skydiving to the next level by strapping a board to their feet and "surfing" the air.

KEBE skysurfing

He is well known in the sport after winning national championships and being an alternate for the X Games, before the category was removed from the event in 2000.

After years of refining his skysurfing skills, KĒBĒ decided to attempt the record for the most helicopter spins while skysurfing on 1 November 2021, against the striking backdrop of the Pyramids of Giza.

KĒBĒ jumped from a height of 13,500 feet, as he had done so many times before, but this time he was focussed on achieving a world record.

"Nothing can really prepare you for what that feels like, when the tailgate of an Egyptian military C130 lowers and you’re looking at Africa for the first time... it’s a very amazing, very powerful feeling."

He completed his mesmerising spins while plummeting to the ground head first, before flipping over to cruise in the air.

"For the surf over the pyramids I exited the spinning manoeuvre down at 5,000 feet."

After reviewing the footage of KĒBĒ’s epic attempt, it was confirmed that he had broken the record with a staggering 160 spins.

KEBE mid spin in the air

"It’s a very large blast of air that hits you. Just for the board not to swirl out from underneath me... and then us have to restart everything - that in itself is a major success."

The control and expertise needed to pull off a feat like this takes years of training and an understanding of the mental and physical challenges you'll face. 

"Holding your hand out of the window at 120 mph will give you a good indicator of what the airflow feels like. And that’s the surface area of your hand, you’ve got to multiply that by quite a bit."

"Regarding [dizziness] or feeling balance or unbalanced, my mind appreciates that a little bit differently now. There’s also a tolerance that builds over time."

KEBE in aircraft carrier before attempt

However, when skysurfing, KĒBĒ feels that it’s not just air that is flowing around you.

"In doing this particular sport you understand that there’s an energy flowing through you that is all around us and that we all are connected."

Being able to attempt this record in Egypt above the famous pyramids heightened this feeling even more for KĒBĒ.

"There’s certainly a level of energy and connectiveness that is second to none at the pyramids. You’re at a place that’s an antenna on the planet for the universe."

fish eye view of the sky and pyramids

But he was a bit stuck on how to get there and make the attempt happen, until a kind act that KĒBĒ carried out years ago was returned.

KĒBĒ had given someone a ride to the hospital after they twisted their ankle, and that same person contacted KĒBĒ and asked if he wanted to go to Egypt.

The attempt was also facilitated by Skydive Egypt, Skydive Orange, Bruno Brokken and Omar Alhegelan.

KEBE in plane

KĒBĒ first heard of skysurfing in the 1990s, when he saw Rob Harris, the 1994 and 1995 skysurfing world champion, at the X Games.

"He was smiling and in the background there’s a video of him skysurfing. He was spinning so incredibly fast and smooth."

"What is that guy doing and what does he understand for him to be smiling? I wanted to understand that. And so my journey began."

Not only did KĒBĒ begin to dominate the fringe sport, but he has also helped hundreds of others experience the "energy flow" skysurfing brings.

"I’ve guided about 250 people to skysurf safely over the years."

"There’s a methodical approach to doing it safely. If one approaches this sport in an unsafe, uneducated manner it can be very dangerous."

KEBE in freefall during sunset

The danger of the sport - even for professionals - was brought into stark reality when Rob Harris, the person who had inspired KĒBĒ, died in a skysurfing accident aged just 28 while filming a commercial for Mountain Dew.

"In the years and years of putting the board on my feet in an aircraft full of people looking at me – I have come to realise that there are times where I am feeling the fears of others. We’re all connected, we feel each other."

But KĒBĒ's preparedness and calm attitude help dispel any worries he may have before his jumps. 

"Quite often when I feel those jitters, I go through my checklist. Am I ready? Do I have everything I need? My parachute… is my pilot chute in place?"

KEBE falling from the plane with arms out

With upwards of 6,500 jumps under his belt, and now a record title, KĒBĒ has big plans for future skysurfs. 

"I would like to challenge what is now my own record. I’ve already gotten a little bit faster. But I’d like to bring that speed up in the mid-body. I’d also like to investigate a little bit the physics of it."

"It would be amazing to go back to Egypt and do this...[or] on the equator.

"I would like to just go further."