Extreme Sport: Wingsuit Skydiving
Just when you think there’s nothing new under the sun in extreme sports, the next big trend appears, and it’s always the next step up in intensity and this time it’s the Wingsuit. Wingsuit skydiving has become increasingly popular in the last couple years, and all signs point to this trend continuing for the foreseeable future.
What is Wingsuit Skydiving?
Wingsuit flying, also called wingsuit skydiving, is an extension of skydiving and BASE jumping. The flier, also called a pilot, wears a jumpsuit that incorporates sheets of fabric between the arms and legs, similar to a flying squirrel’s webbing. A flight can be started from any point at sufficient altitude and space to achieve a stable glide, such as a plane or BASE jump platform.The concept first appeared in the 1930s, but were only used by stunt performers until the 1990s. In 1999, Bird-Man International Ltd. released the first commercial suit, but mainly focused on spreading the sport by offering training experienced skydivers. By the mid-2000s the sport had gained popularity, and now boasts professional teams and competitions.
How it Works
A wingsuit jump can be broken down into three stages. Stage one is the launch. A pilot’s jump point will vastly change the technique used to enter into a stable glide. Stage two is the glide, wherein the pilot controls his descent by changing his body shape to adjust the air lift ratio. When the pilot has reached a predetermined altitude they deploy their parachute, and land using the same technique a BASE jumper or skydiver who had used the same launch point would.
The Art of Flight
Wingsuit skydiving has to be seen to be believed. Whether you plan to try this sport or not, it’s amazing to watch jumpers live what most of us have only experienced in dreams. Truly, it is the most elegant of all extreme sports, and these videos can take you with them.
So, You Want to Try It?
Make no mistake; wingsuit skydiving is a dangerous activity, and should only be attempted by highly experienced jumpers. Because of the complex xanax side effect hormone techniques required for a successful flight, the United States Parachute Association recommends that only those who have made a minimum of 200 free-fall skydive jumps within the last 18 months, and a personal training session from a certified instructor, before attempting a flight. Suit manufacturers can point you toward a reputable instructor in your area.
Choosing the best Wingsuit for You
If you’ve made up your mind, and gotten the training, your final step is finding the right suit for you. Not all are made equal, and when your life is on the line, bargain hunting isn’t a great strategy. Enthusiasts always have their own personal preference, whatever the sport, and as you gain experience you will likely figure out what suit design best fits your flight style. But, there are industry favorites, and the following suits are all quality products, and are a good place to start when shopping for equipment.
- Best Wingsuit for Beginners: Prodigy 2 by Phoenix-Fly. This suit was designed for novice pilots and it’s simple design makes for easy assembly. Performance is stable, with predicatle maneuverability, which is ideal for learning refined control. The Prodigy also rates the longest potential wide distance of any beginner’s suit.
- Good Wingsuit: Phantom 2 by Phoenix-Fly. This suit is excellent for intermediate pilots who are ready to work on progressing their skills. It’s designed as a well-balanced suit that performs well in both BASE and skydiving jumps, and is equally comfortable for slow gliding and speed runs.
- Better Wingsuit: X-Bird by TonySuit. This high performance suit is meant for veteran pilots and caters to their needs. It’s arm and leg zips allow variable pressurization for adjusting the suit’s performance, and includes optional features designed to extend flight time and length.
- Best Wingsuit: Firebird-R by Bird-man. Designed by the company that started it all, this custom-built suit features the latest wingsuit technology, such as semi-rigged Mylar ribbing, which lets pilots push their limits against high G-forces. Intended for only the most skilled pilots, this is the suit for adrenalin junkies who can never get enough speed.