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Wingsuits Unleash Power of Human Flight

Wingsuits allow the closest thing to true human flight in history Wingsuits allow the closest thing to true human flight in history

Who hasn’t longed to soar through the air? The Wright Brothers made the dream of human flight a reality, but now wingsuits and extreme sports innovators like Jeb Corliss are giving humans an even more incredible flying experience.

Wingsuits are a type of jumpsuit with fabric “wings” attached between a jumper’s arms and body, and between a jumper’s legs. Wingsuit fliers leap from airplanes, cliff faces, bridges, or any BASE Jumping exit point, and achieve something remarkably similar to true flight.

The suits are designed to create lift, sort of like a flying squirrel’s “wings.” Jumpers reach terminal velocity of 120 mph as they guide their descent, which is as much horizontal as it is vertical.

As the jumper approaches the ground, they deploy a parachute and unzip their arms to control their landing.

Remarkably similar to true flight

However, for the past few years, professional BASE Jumper and extreme sports legend, Jeb Corliss, has been working on finding a way to land the wingsuit without a parachute.

The plan for the landing is to have Corliss approach a snowy surface at a nearly horizontal angle, and then slide so there is virtually no impact from the fall itself. Corliss has been developing a landing strip similar to what ski jumpers might use.

However, the project has been in the works for years now, and still no one has been able to complete the entirely chute-less jump.

Motocross and rally car driver, Travis Pastrana, famously jumped from an airplane wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, but was attached to a parachute by a fellow jumper mid-fall and completed a tandem jump. That’s pretty crazy, but it’s nothing like what Corliss has been working on.

Jumped from an airplane


Who is Jeb Corliss?

Jeb Corliss has long been a source of interest in pop-culture. The subject of TV documentaries and news clippings the world over, Corliss’s most notorious stunt was jumping from the Empire State Building. He was arrested and sentenced to probation and community service. Later, the charge was overturned.

Corliss claims to have been diagnosed with a psychological condition called counterphobia, which compels him to undertake dangerous activities, to do things that scare him most.

Corliss rose to fame as a BASE jumper, parachuting from stationary objects such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, and Seattle’s Space Needle.

Now Corliss spends his time wingsuit jumping, and pioneered an offshoot sport called proximity jumping, where, rather than jumping away from a cliff face or mountainside, he soars down the side within feet of touching the object.

Soars down the side within feet of touching the object

 The Future of Wingsuit Jumping

Wingsuit jumping is nothing new anymore. The internet and news magazines have ensured that most people have heard something about these incredible suits and the powers they grant jumpers. But Jeb Corliss is among those people taking their sport to the next level. And if he can someday survive a landing without a parachute, he’ll cement his name even further in the annals of extreme sports.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 05:48

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