Birdman

When base jumping isn’t enough… there’s always the wingsuit:

(Higher-quality version here. Lots more on YouTube).

What strikes me about the wingsuit, once I pry my heart out of my stomach, is its simplicity. With humans trying for millenia to fly like the birds, with the airplane having been with us for more than a century, it seems odd that the wingsuit is so simple, so elemental, and yet took so long to develop. “You need webs, like a bat!” Why wasn’t this invented a thousand years ago? Almost seems like it could have been made with deerskin and twine.

OK, I take it back. Wikipedia:

According to wingsuit lore, between 1930 and 1961, 72 of the 75 original birdmen died trying their wingsuits. Some of these so-called ‘birdmen’, most notably Clem Sohn and Leo Valentin, claimed to have glided for miles and inspired dozens of imitators.

In case you’re wondering, a wingsuit costs around a grand. Great photo gallery.

Music: Pinpeat Orchestra :: Somplov

6 Replies to “Birdman”

  1. It seems like base-jumping parachute technology is really what makes these controlled falls possible. You are still falling down at a deadly speed. Doing it next to a cliff accentuates the horizontal.

  2. There was one in a Warren Miller flick a few years back where they captured it from the jumper (head-cam) POV and from the ground as the skiiers were climbing up the mountain to go down the ‘traditional’ ways.

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