Wingsuit Flying, Phoenix Style

The proximity flying is the future of BASE jumping

In this article: wingsuit base jumping, wingsuit jump facts and wingsuit tricks

Related tags: wingsuit flying history, wingsuit flying videos, proximity flying, wingsuit tricks, wingsuit base jumping, longest wingsuit jump, skydiving wing suit

A Different BASE Jumping

Wingsuit Flying is the real world application to the expression "fly like a bird", except that flyers don't flap their wings like a bird, but instead glide through the air using a special jumpsuit. Dreams of have captivated our bold imagination since the beginning of time. Today, those dreams are possible with a little help from a wingsuit.

Wingsuit flying is also known as BASE jumping and it usually ends with a parachute opening... or a terrifying death. Wingsuit is clearly not for the faint of heart, but for modern supermen. Have a look; no hurt in watching, right?

Well, yes and no, because wingsuit flying or the urge to "fly like a bird" can become extremely addictive once you watched these videos. You were warned!

A Brief Wingsuit Flying History

Wings (made of canvas, wood, silk and even steel) were first used in the 1930s as an attempt to increase horizontal movement. As one can expect, the wings were not very reliable. "Not very" is an understatement, as 72 of the 75 original "birdmen" meet the fate of Icarus between 1930 and the 1960s, while testing their own wingsuits.

In the 1990s, French skydiver Patrick de Gayardon created a skydiving wing suit that had unparalleled safety and performance, but died on April 13, 1998, while testing a modification to his parachute container. However, his death was not caused by a flaw in the suit's design, but rather attributed to a rigging error.

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 Wingsuit Flying Video #1: Phoenix Fly, The Need for Speed. Switch to 720p for HD.

Tom Begic, an Australian BASE jumper, created his own skydiving wing suit following Patrick de Gayardon's ideas. He needed it to capture footage of European BASE jumpers while jumping from high altitude cliffs. In comparison with the other jumpers, Begic's suit provided greater maneuverability and a considerable increase in the freefall time. In 2000, Begic associated with Robert Pecnik to create Phoenix Fly, a wingsuit manufacturing company featured in the above video. Since 2003, many BASE jumpers have started using wingsuits, giving birth to WiSBASE, the future of BASE jumping.

Wingsuit Base Jumping

The "birdman" enters freefall wearing a wingsuit and deploys his parachute at the end. Depending on the BASE jumping site, the exit strategy is different. If the initial wind speed is absent at the exit (cliff, helicopter), then a vertical drop is required to accelerate enough for the wingsuit to "lift". If the initial wind speed is high (when jumping from a moving aircraft), the wingsuit will immediately start to fly making use of the relative wind generated by the forward movement of the aircraft.

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 Wingsuit Flying Video #2: Pact with the Devil. Switch to 720p for HD.

In wingsuit base jumping the flier manipulates the shape of his body to create the desired amount of "lift" (surface force perpendicular to the air flow direction) and "drag" (surface force parallel to the oncoming flow direction). To translate, this type of base jumping allows the flier to alter both his forward speed and his fall rate.

While a sky diver can fly at 130mph (200km/h), a skydiving wing suit can reduce this speed dramatically to an average 60-90 km/h, and can glide longer distances horizontally. A new development, still very experimental, the jet powered wingsuit, will allow for even greater horizontal travel, with more than 160mph!

Wingsuit Tricks

Flying a wingsuit is considerable difficult even for a skydiver. Poor flying technique can result in an incontrollable and deadly spin. United States Parachute Association allows you to execute base jumping if you have a minimum of 200 sky-dives and 1-on-1 instruction from an experienced wing suit jumper (or 500 jumps experience to go without an instructor) to become one of those lucky people who experience wingsuit flying.

Some of the wingsuit tricks one could try are flips and barrel rolls, or the newest wingsuit flying technique proximity flying. Being extremely spectacular, this flying technique is also very risky, because it involved flying close to the cliffs, ridges of mountains or trees.

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 Wingsuit Flying Video #3: Flying in Switzerland. Switch to 720p for HD.

Longest Wingsuit Jump

The longest wingsuit jump in wingsuit base jumping is 12 miles (19 km), executed in 2010 by the Japanese Shin Ito, from an altitude of 35,000 ft (11 km) in Helsinki, Finland. Free fall time was 5 minutes at 178mph (286 km/h). In 2008, Australian couple Heather Swan and Glenn Singleman set the world record for highest wingsuit jump, flying from 37,000 ft over central Australia, the top of the world.

There is also an unofficial record for the longest wingsuit jump of 13 miles (21 km) set by Alvaro Bulto, Santi Corella and Toni Lopez. The three of them crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in 2005, after jumping from an altitude of 35,000 ft. The most dangerous wingsuit flying on record was performed only a few days ago by Norwegians Jokke Sommer and Tom Erik Heimen from the TV show dedicated to extreme sports "Oppdrag Sognefjorden". Watch the risky wingsuit flying video below:

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 Wingsuit Flying Video #4: Birthday Wingsuit Flyby. Switch to 720p for HD.

Wingsuit flying is considered by many the most dangerous sport in the world due to its high . Over the past 5 years, 50 people out of 1,000 died practicing wingsuit flying. That's half the amount of people who climbed K2 (the second-highest mountain on Earth after Mount Everest) over the same period of time!

This technique of BASE jumping is such a dangerous sport because even the most experimented wingsuit jumpers can take bad decisions mid-flight... The pure human flight is not a thing to be treated lightly so please, whatever you do, don't try this at home!

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