If you are one of those adrenaline junkies that simply can’t get enough excitement, we might just have the right sport for you – wingsuit flying. Resembling something between a flying squirrel and Batman, the wingsuit allows skydivers to soar through the air as if they are flying.
Wingsuits add surface area to the human body, which enables a significant increase in lift. The surface is usually created by adding fabric between the legs and under the arms. A wingsuit flight starts either from a plane or as a B.A.S.E. jump (from a fixed object on the ground such as a very high rock). Hopefully the flight ends with the opening of a parachute and a safe landing but there have been numerous accidents due to the dangerous nature of the sport.
To fly a wingsuit you need to be a licensed skydiver with more than 200 freefall skydives. This is the absolute minimum – you really need the experience and skills accumulated by doing a lot of freefall jumps. Wingsuit flying restricts your movement and adds complications to your exit, freefall, deployment and the ability to deal with malfunctions.
There are a few competitions in wingsuit jumping around the globe but they are pretty simple – jump and be the fastest flyer to cross a predetermined spot before opening your parachute. The real thrill comes from the jump itself, as you could be flying almost horizontally at 120 miles per hour.
Proximity wingsuit flying
This is the most dangerous type of wingsuit flying. It’s a combination of B.A.S.E. jumping and wingsuit flying – practitioners will plan a route which allows them to pass close to fixed objects on the ground. The risk of injury is considerably increased and the margin for error is reduced to a minimum. Choosing the wrong line or failing to fly with efficiency can result in serious injury or death.
The most important thing is to be impeccable in your safety procedures. It takes a really strong character to be aware all the time of the surrounding and correctly determine the right flying path and the proximity to the ground.
Sadly, even the greatest professionals out there are not safe when practicing this sport. Mark Sutton, the stuntman who took part in the London Olympics dressed as James Bond, died in a tragic accident while wingsuit flying in Switzerland.
Mr. Sutton was killed after crashing into a ridge near Martigny at the Swiss-French border. A statement from police in the area said he was considered “among the best in the world” at the discipline.