More on Being a Flying Squirrel, AKA Wingsuiting

Zi xin - Imaginechina

With your feedback I’ve learned a little more about wingsuit BASE jumping. It’s all confirmed my initial sense that it is both fascinating and really crazy. To recapitulate, BASE jumping is simply parachuting from very high fixed objects: bridges, cliffs, etc. The addition of the wingsuit is where it gets interesting and almost mind-bogglingly dangerous.

As I described it yesterday, the wingsuit makes the jumper into something like a flying squirrel. You’re definitely falling. But it’s much more than just the pivoting and ability to shift direction that you see with skydivers. A skilled wingsuiter can slow their speed of descent to as little as 25 mph, while achieving horizontal speeds of between 150 and 220 miles an hour. (That rate of descent is pretty amazing if you think about it.) So this is somewhat akin to the controlled descent of the old space shuttles. You’re definitely falling. But there’s a lot of control and it’s something like a glide. (Here’s a site with a basic description of the sport, the technology, which suits you can buy, etc.)

Where it goes from wow to really crazy is that this is often done down the sides of steep mountains ‘flying’ just above the treetops or through ravines. In two of the videos below the jumpers are actually flying through tight crevices or holes in the sides of mountains at over 150 miles an hour.

It’s nuts. Here are a few more videos I’ve found over the course of discussing this today with readers.

Jeb Corliss Flies Through Tianmen Cave (relatively large hole in a huge friggin’ rock mountain)

Alexander Polli, flying through a tiny gap in a rock face in the Roca Foradada Mountains in Montserrat, Spain

Miscellaneous crazy stuff