Ever since the time of Icarus, people have dreamed of enjoying a free flight. Soaring like a bird, freely and easily, allowed the wingsuit - or wing suit. In nature, flying squirrels plan this way with the help of a membrane stretched along the body.
How the flying squirrel costume works
The wingsuit as we know it now appeared in the late 90s. Although the first such suit was presented in the 30s of the last century. It took enthusiasts six decades to improve the design, and then to figure out how to successfully integrate a parachute into it, which could be used during landing and not think about it at all during the flight.
Wingsuit designs continue to be refined, although all flight suits have three wings. Two of them are pulled when the athlete spreads his arms to the sides, the third - when the legs are moved. The wings consist of two layers of durable fabric, air enters the space between them through special air intakes located in the front of the wingsuit.
A special rigid frame allows changing the aerodynamic characteristics; these are a kind of "ribs" that shape the wings. Such a suit was developed by the French inventor and parachutist Patrick de Gaillardon.
Before its creation, more than 70 inventors were known in the history of wingsuits who tried to create an even more perfect flight suit. Almost all of them died during the tests of their structures.
Modern variations of wingsuits are more sophisticated. And some athletes risk jumping in wingsuit even without a parachute. Here is the best video of a wingsuit landing in the water. The peculiarity of this jump is that the athletes made it without a parachute.
How to gain experience
If you've been inspired by the wingsuit flying on YouTube videos and would like to replicate the successes of the masters, the first principle that beginners should know about is preparation and more preparation. Before taking your first wingsuit flight, you should have a decent amount of experience jumping with a conventional wing parachute.
This must be done at least two hundred times. Only if you have the appropriate skills, after jumping out of the plane, you will fly in a horizontal plane, and after that you will take the correct body position and open your parachute in time during landing.
The higher you rise into the air, the longer and further you can fly in the horizontal plane. Some fly along the slopes of the mountains. To be able to use Proximity Jumping, the athlete must flawlessly handle the wingsuit. The speed sufficient for horizontal flights is up to 90 km per hour.
Proximity flights along rocks with a steep slope are the brightest and most spectacular and at the same time the most risky. In principle, the speed that extreme athletes develop during a flight can reach 225 km per hour. Here are selected moments of such jumps.
Alexander Polly is still considered the recognized master of proximity jumping. He became the first extreme in the world to conquer the "Perforated Rock" in Catalonia, flying in a wingsuit through the natural arch of Montserrat. Extremal was raised to a height of 1.5 km above the rocks. Polly jumped in a wingsuit, the flight speed reached 266 km per hour. Accuracy and impeccable skill did their job - the dangerous flight was successful.
Here is one of the most memorable videos of the athlete.
And do not repeat the fatal mistakes
But beginners should remember that the height does not spare anyone, even the first-class extreme. In the spring of 2015, Dean Potter, one of the most recognizable figures among extreme sports, crashed. Dean and his teammate Graham Hunt jumped in wingsuits from 2.3 km Taft Point. The base jump (parachute jump from a fixed object) turned out to be fatal for both. For some unknown reason, both parachutes of the athletes did not open.
Dean Potter is known for flying wingsuit with his dog Whisper. Dean left on his last flight without him.
After a thousand parachute jumps and seven hundred jumps in a wingsuit in the fall of 2013, an extreme athlete from Hungary Viktor Kovats crashed. He made his last jump from Tianmen Mountain in China's Hunan province during the second world wingsuit jumping championship.
What you can strive for
In terms of risk, ordinary parachute jumps from an airplane and in a wingsuit are about the same. Statistics show that for 100 thousand jumps, one is fatal. But with base jumps, that is, from mountains and high-rise buildings, death occurs in one case out of two thousand. However, extreme lovers are not stopped by either the height or the increased risk.
The first jump in wingsuit into the crater of the active volcano Mutnovsky in Kamchatka was made by Valery Rozov, two-time world champion in parachuting, multiple champion of Russia in parachuting, X-Games champion in skysurfing.
He was the first to fly over the Tatar Strait, which separates Sakhalin from the mainland. Rozov is rightfully considered one of the best extreme sportsmen in the world - he has the most conquered peaks on his account. In 2013, the athlete set the world record for the height of base jump - 7220 meters from Mount Changse near Everest.
Just as athletes flew over the Alps without a parachute in a wingsuit, Valery Rozov also made the only such jump.
By the way, the deceased Dean Potter holds the record for the longest flight during a base jump. Dean jumped in a wingsuit from Mount Eiger and flew 7.5 km before opening his parachute. Japanese Shin Ito holds the record for flight speed - 363 km per hour.
P.S. Both beginners and professionals who have made many jumps in a wingsuit say the same thing - it's impossible to get used to flying in a wingsuit. Just with experience comes the understanding that even fear has its own gradations. The mastery of wingsuit management grows in one way or another over time. It is only important not to take long breaks between workouts. It is better to jump fewer times, but regularly. By the way, flying in wingsuit is recognized as a sport by the International Aeronautics Federation.