Archive for December 27th, 2007

Batman Is Real – Wingsuit Flying

If you will see Batman flying over above you, don’t think you are mad. It is real. Wingsuit Flyers look exactly like cartoon heros, but they live what we just dream of. Gliding through the sky without a plane, without engines, without any disturbing circumstance that would destroy the feeling of free flying.

What is wingsuit flying?

WingsuitWingsuit flyers are almost like parachuters – in fact they carry parachutes, too – the difference is that they wear a special suit that forms a ram-air wing between their body and arms and between their legs. With the help of these wings they can glide like birds and they can change direction, increase or decrease their speed or altitude by changing the shape of their own body. They carry a regular parachute as well and they open it for landing as the wingsuit does not slow them down to a speed safe enough for landing. Wingsuit flyers can jump out of a plane, a helicopter or they mmight use any base jump points: buildings or cliffs. Wingsuit flying has become popular in the late 90s and early 2000, when this type of uniform was developed by Jari Kousma and Robert Pecnik. They established the first company (Birdman Inc.) that trained people and sold wingsuits for the public.

Wingsuit Flying clubs

The Bridman club remained active in pioneering and their next big step was wingsuit flying with jet engines attached to the feet of the flyer. The Finnish Birdman was able to achieve approximately 30 seconds of horizontal flight with no noticeable loss of altitude. Besides Birdman new clubs and stores were founded like Phoenix Fly or Fly your body or EG Wingsuits. They all experiment and manufacture their own wingsuits. A wingsuit costs EUR 400-1200. Mostly they are around EUR 1000, but you can find special promotions for older versions. On the website of Phoenix Fly you can even find user manuals for the wingsuits and other articles about aerodynamics and the basics of wingsuit flying.

The fun of being Batman

Although many people have already experienced parachute jumping, the two sports are far from each other and in order to become a wingsuit flier, you have to learn both. Also it requires different techniques to jump from a plane or from a base. Therefore it is wiser to contact these clubs and ask for contacts of local trainers before you get started. They say it requires more than 200 jumps with the attention of a trainer to become expert enough to jump without assistance.

Once you get there and try it, please share your thoughts with us here! In the menatime watch some videos of this fantastic extreme sport!

By Szafi

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December 2007