Wednesday, September 10, 2014

More about wingsuit 'proximity flying'

Last week I mentioned the death of wingsuit 'proximity flyer' Alex Duncan, who got too close to the ground during his final flight.  I was astonished to find that somewhere between 15 and 25 wingsuit flyers die every year in pursuit of this exciting but dangerous hobby.

After American wingsuiter Brian Drake was killed in Switzerland in April this year, Epic TV produced this tribute to him and his sport. For maximum impact (you should pardon the expression), I recommend watching it (and the following two videos) in full-screen mode.

Next, Vincent Descols, partner in flight of the late Mr. Duncan, demonstrates proximity flying in the Alps.

And finally, here's a compilation of the best proximity flying videos of 2013.  Note the list (at the end of the video) of those who were killed that year while wingsuiting.

Exhilarating . . . adrenalin-charged . . . but also bloody dangerous!



Anonymous said...

Living in Switzerland, where a lot of people fly wingsuits, and do other high adrenaline mountain sports, I have mixed feelings.

On the one hand, why not? It's their life, if this is what gives them kicks, more power to them .

On the other hand, it's not very considerate to the people who have to wipe up the blood splatter that's left when a flyer misjudges a rock.

skybill said...

'Back in the day, the closing line in an old Carl Boenish Skydiving movie says,"Happy are those who dream dreams and pay the price to make them come true." It's the "Envelope ya' keep pushing!!" 'Made my first jump, 08MAY1964 on an old 28'double "L" Canopy in an old O.D. B-4 backpack out of a Cessna 170 at 2500' on "Static Line." Most people reading this post weren't even born yet! Those were the daze! We've come a long way in the sport. Fly On!!

Anonymous said...

I know if I was doing that I wouldn't need a smoke stick...the brown trail would be sufficient.

Makes me wonder how the military is probably using something like this now for covert insertions.

Skybills jump beat my birth by 10 days

fast richard said...

Skybill, I made my first jump about nine years after you with a 28' 7TU from a 182, at a drop zone run by Ric Schwandt (SCS70). Boenish films were a standard recruiting tool at the time. He kept pushing that envelope and was one of the first famous fatalities in BASE jumping.

BSBD indeed.

Anonymous said...

This is no different than riding a motorcycle without leathers and a helmet, or pulling your main at low altitude to be like the HALO jumpers, or even --- smoking a cigar after dinner. There needs to be no public outcry or new laws passed directing just how close a close a close pass by wingsuiters can be. The sport will self regulate if needed and mother earth always gives final critiques to those who push too far.

July '74, C-130, right paratroop door, T-10 parachute

Old NFO said...

+1 on first Anon...

Coconut said...

To be fair, a lot more of them live than don't.

I wouldn't have rated the chances of a man jumping out of a 'plane without a parachute to be very high at all before finding a video of one, so...

Pascal Fervor said...

These filmed exploits suggest new meaning to the elliptical version of the metaphor, traditionally pejorative, "they've gone bats."

Those suit designs certainly do seem to be inspired by study of bats, and perhaps flying squirrels. Ah, the source of another pejorative.

This may force us to adapt our metaphors for describing liberal "thought."

On a Wing and a Whim said...

I flew (plane, not wingsuit) in Alaska 'til I moved down to be with BRM. I loved it beyond words. Lost a lot of friends and acquaintances in the mountains, too.

Noticed when I moved that life down here is a lot ...tamer. Their accomplishments are small, their thrills are mild, their range of options is narrow. What really gets me, though, is the way the average person down here is either totally petrified of things that can kill 'em, or completely nonchalant because they can't grok the idea of death as applied to them. (I deal a lot with training PIT equipment and green operators.)

In any given group of ten people, telling them they're about to handle five tons of equipment that has the potential to do a lot of damage and kill 'em if they fail to learn to control it, I get three freezing up, six completely bored and tuned out, and a vet going "Yeah, I get that."

Give me a military vet or a jumper any day of the week.