Wingsuit Flying: the human body in flight
Extreme is the only word for the sport you are going to read about right now. If you haven't already heard of this, you are in for the surprise of your life. Man can now fly.
Imagine hiking from Sawtooth Canyon to Notch Peak in Utah. Suddenly you hear a loud swoosh sound over your head. You look up just in time to see a man or woman flying toward the valley below. No, it’s not Superman or Superwoman, although some might disagree.
What is this phenomenon? This is wingsuit flying and you are just about to see it up close and personal. The first video demonstrates wingsuit base jumping or WisBase. Get ready to switch to Full Screen because you won’t want to miss a thing.
Jeb Corliss "Grinding the Crack"
Modern Wingsuit Materials and Manufacturers
The History of Wingsuits
- Eilmer of Malmesbury, 11th Century, constructed wings and leapt from the top of a tower, breaking both legs which crippled him for life.
- Franz Reichelt, 1912, jumped from the first platform of the Eiffel Tower wearing a flight suit of his own design. He fell to his death.
- Clem Sohn, 1910 –1937, constructed a successful wingsuit in the 1930s. At a show in France his parachute failed to open and he fell to his death.
- Leo Valentin, 1919-1956, developed a set of wooden wings. He died at an air show in England when his wing struck the plane and broke. His parachute failed to open.
- Patrick de Gayardon, 1960-1998, developed a successful wingsuit. He died when testing a modification to his wingsuit’s parachute container which failed.
The Best Wingsuit Skydive from Youtube, Part 1
Prominent Wingsuit Flyers
- Graham Dickinson-Canada-Deceased, February 2017
- Loic Jean-Albert, aka the flying dude-France
- Jeb Corliss-U.S.
- Steph Davis-U.S.
- Ueli 'Sputnik' Gegenschatz-Switzerland-deceased
- Tom Begic-Australia
- Jari Kuosma-Finland
- Robert Pečnik-Croatia
- Visa Parviainen-Finland
- Anthony Stepney-Great Britain
Graham Dickinson, World Renowned Wingsuit Flyer, Dies While Flying in China, February 2017
Elements of a Normal Flight
- Leaving the exit point: airplane, helicopter, cliff, tower etc.
- Gaining speed-either from speed of airplane or from free falling from a structure
- Reaching terminal velocity-the point at which the flier is no longer accelerating
- Glide ratio: 5 feet of forward movement for every 2 feet of drop
- Flight time: Time from exit point to beginning of free fall
Mechanics of Flight
The wingsuit is designed to allow the wind to pass through channels sewn into the wings of the suit. This creates an airfoil which produces lift, enabling flight. The glide ratio, also known as efficiency, is 2.5 for most wingsuits. This means that for every two feet dropped, there are five feet of forward movement. A combination of body maneuvers and suit design enables the flyer to control both the forward speed and the fall rate. A flyer can also control aspects of flight by changing the positions of the torso, shoulders, hips and knees. These actions change where the wind comes into contact with the wingsuit and thereby produce the desired changes in forward momentum and drop.
Peak to Peak Gondola, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
- First to fly through a waterfall-Jeb Corliss
- Largest official formation-68 in arrowhead formation, 2009 Lake Elsinore, California
- Highest-21780 ft by Heather Swan and Glenn Singleman of Australia at Meru Peak, India
- Longest-Dean Potter, 4.6 miles, The Eiger, Swiss Alps 3:20
- Greatest horizontal distance-26.257 km (16.315 miles)
- Greatest absolute distance– 28.196 km (17.520 miles)
- Longest duration– 9min 6sec
- Highest altitude– 11,358 m (37,265 ft) see video below
Red Bull AirForce - Wingsuit Flying (Training Camp)
Wingsuit Flying Schools
Some Popular Locations for Wingsuit Base Jumping
- Kjerag and Trollstigen in Norway
- Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland
- Monte Brento in Italy
- Carl’s Huge wall in Northern Norway
- Norwegian Fjord in Southern Norway
- Italian Terminal wall
- Swiss Fungus
- Table Mountain, South Africa
- Notch Peak, Utah
- Lake Elsinore, California
- Tianmen Mountains, China
I remember when my son first showed me these videos about four years ago. I was blown away by what I was seeing. I hope you were equally blown away and amazed at what men and women with dreams can accomplish.