Wingsuit flying – a dangerous sport that enables you to fly
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Wingsuit flying – a dangerous sport that enables you to fly
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    Just imagine yourself flying above the mountains, through the clouds only by wearing an apparently simple wingsuit, which is actually built especially for this purpose, to give you the ability, the “superpower” to levitate in the air faster and for a long time, more than the usual! Who wouldn’t want to fly?

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As long as you’re not afraid of high altitudes, this sport guarantees an unforgettable experience and adrenaline rush. How far would you go for new sensations? To remain in the sky for a while, for a while longer, not to fall from the beginning… To control your flight and see the world through different eyes, eyes with more opportunities and greater views, on your own due to the super suit. It’s risky, but is worth it if you prefer doing what you like no matter the consequences.   
People in search of extreme experiences and adventures in the sky, who wanted to fly instead of just falling towards the ground through skydiving or base jumps, invented wingsuit flying to make this possible. Doing base jump and skydiving while wearing a wingsuit makes these extreme sports more extreme than ever before, bringing them to a whole new level, as the number of deaths is high.
This sport is similar to base jumping, including the ability to control your movements and fly yourself as you’re approaching the ground. You’ll be able to fly above the ground at 15 feet high with 180 km/h, going through trees and canyons on your way down and you’ll attain an extreme experience if you’re willing to practice and learn this extreme sport gradually and in a safe manner.
However, it’s a dangerous sport to an extent that some regions even interdict it. Although base jumping and skydiving in ordinary clothes are both risky, wingsuit jumping brings up a new level of danger. According to Mick Knutson, the editor of an online magazine with base jumping, it’s because the suit gives you the ability to fly too fast. Mick Knutson has done approximately 1,000 base jumps and 500 of them were in a wingsuit.
    In wingsuit flying you wear a special jumpsuit that expands the surface area of your body so that you can achieve an increased lift on your way down. This particular suit appears like it has tiny wings that you hold between your hands along with your body and between your legs also. In certain cases, wingsuits are known as birdman suits or flying squirrel suits because they’re similar to an animal, or bat suits because they also look like a costume of superhero or just because they remind of that animal.
Usually, a wingsuit flying finishes with a parachute opening, that’s why a wingsuit can be piloted in a safe manner from any point with an adequate altitude for flight and parachute deployment, usually a skydiving fall aircraft or base jump exit stage. The wingsuit flyer uses parachute equipment conceived for skydiving or base jumping.
The parachute flight carries out normally, though the canopy pilot generally opens the zipper of the arm wings right after deployment in order to be able to get to the steering toggles and maneuver the parachute on the way down.

    For the first time, a wingsuit was utilized in 1930 by Rex Finnery, a 19 years old American from Los Angeles, when he tried to improve the horizontal motion and maneuverability while doing a parachute jump. The first wingsuits were produce with materials like canvas, silk, wood, steel and whale bone. However, they weren’t that secure, though some wingsuit fliers such as Clem Sohn and Leo Valentin said that they managed to fly for miles.
In mid 1990, the renovated winguist of today was created by Patrick de Gayardon from France. Afterwards, in 1997, Sammy Popov, a Bulgarian, invented and made a wingsuit which featured a wider wing between the legs and elongated wings over the arms.  His model was created at Boulder City, Nevada and the testing was led inside a vertical wind tunnel located at Flyaway Las Vegas. 

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    For the first time, this particular wingsuit flew in October 1998 across Jean, Nevada, however it never ended up in commercial production. The wingsuit design of Sammy Popov represented an excellent improvement in adding lift; it managed to slow the vertical speed all the way to 30 km/h while soaring horizontally at speeds exceeding 300 km/h. In 1998, a model with integrated hard ribs in the wing’s airfoils was invented by Chuck “Da Kine Raggs”.
Despite the fact that these improved rigid wings were even more capable of maintaining their shape during the flight, they actually caused the wingsuit to be heavier and the flight more complicated. As well, Chuck’s innovation never entered into commercial production. When Popov flew along with Raggs for the first time, they presented their designs together at the World Free-fall Convention held at Quincy, Illinois on August, in 1999, and both their designs did a great job.
During the same demonstration, more activities with wingsuit skydives were held in which were used as well the suits of Gayardon, Popov and Raggs.

    Basically, a wingsuit flier begins a free fall using a wingsuit along with parachute equipment. However, departing an aircraft wearing a wingsuit necessitates skilled techniques that vary because they depend on the area and size of the aircraft door. All these techniques involve the positioning relative to the aircraft and the airflow when departing, and also the manner in which the flier will open his legs and arms at the right time so that he’ll not run into the aircraft or get unstable in the relative wind.
Normally, the wingsuit will instantly begin to fly upon departing the aircraft in the relative wind produced by the aircraft’s forward speed. Departing from a base jumping site like a cliff, or departing from a helicopter, a parglider, or a hot air balloon, is basically something else than departing a moving aircraft due to the lack of first airspeed when exiting. In such conditions, a vertical fall utilizing the forces of gravity in order to speed up is necessary to produce the airspeed that the wingsuit can then transform into lift.
At a chosen altitude relative to the ground in which a skydiver or base jumper would normally start his parachute deployment, a wingsuit flier will do this as well. After that, the parachute will be piloted to a maneuvered landing at the wanted landing point utilizing common skydiving or base jumping techniques.
So, a wingsuit changes the surface area of the body which is exposed to wind in order to augment the needed amount of lift, withstanding the body’s drag. One can attain a glide ratio with some wingsuits at 2.5:1 or surpassing this, which signifies that for each fallen meter, two and a half meters are obtained moving forward. This ratio is known also as the flight efficiency. 


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    A wingsuit flier can modify his forward speed and drop rate by body shape handling and picking the wingsuit’s design features. The flier manipulates these attributes of the flight by modifying the shape of his torso, de-arching or rolling the shoulders and moving the knees, and hips, and also by altering the angle of attack in which the wingsuit travels in the relative wind along with the quantity of tension employed to the wings’ material of the suit. The lack of vertical settling surface results in a small blunting around the yaw axis, an inadequate flying technique can be produced in a spin that needs active effort on the skydiver’s behalf in order to end it.
A normal terminal velocity of the skydiver towards the ground is between 180 and 225 km/h, as in 110 and 140 mph. A wingsuit can diminish these speeds in a very impressive manner. There has been registered a vertical instantaneous velocity that was of 40 km/h, as in 25 mph, but the speed at which the body can fly through the air can be much higher.

Best wingsuit flights
•  Fastest - the wingsuit flier Shin Ito broke the record with the fastest speed on 28 May 2011, achieving 363 km/h, as in 226 mph, in a wingsuit.
•  Longest time and highest - Jhonathan Florez, a Colombian skydiver, broke the Guinness World Records with his wingsuit flying on 20 and 21 April 2012.  He had the longest wingsuit flight of 9 minutes and 6 seconds, and the highest altitude wingsuit jump at 11,358 meters, as in 37,265 feet.
•  Landing - Gary Connery, a British stuntman, managed to land a wingsuit without using parachute deployment on 23 May 2012, and he landed on a crushable landing spot made of numerous cardboard boxes.
•  Farthest - Shin Ito, the Japanese wingsuit flier, reached 2 new world records on 26 May 2012 with the most outstanding horizontal distance flown in a wingsuit, more precisely of 26.9 km or 16.7 mi, and with the ultimate absolute distance of 28.707 km or 17.838 mi.

Interesting facts
•  From 1930 to 1961, approximately 71 fliers out of 75 have lost their life attempting to perfect the wingsuit. However, a great part of them turned out to be inspiring for many people when they flew for miles.
•  From the year 2010, there have been made new wingsuits still in the experimental stage, known as powered wingsuits, which use mostly tiny jet engines fixed to the feet or a wingpack setup in order to obtain more impressive horizontal speeds as well as vertical ascent.
•  Starting from 2003, a lot of base jumpers have began utilizing wingsuits, creating in this manner WiSBASE! The highest WiSBASE jump is recorded in 5 May 2013 when the Russian Valery Rozov jumped from an altitude of 7,220 meters off Mount Everest’s North Col, and the longest WiSBASE jump is of 7.5 km, and it was performed by the American Dean Potter on 2 November 2011, when he spent 3 minutes and 20 seconds in flight at an altitude of 2.8 km, as in 9,200 feet, jumping from Eiger.
•  In the film called “Transformers: Dark of the Moon from 2011”, these particular wingsuits are utilized by the United States military to execute an aerial insertion into a town invaded by giant robots which were enemies.
•  In the film “How to Train Your Dragon 2” from 2014, the main character known as Hiccup made a wingsuit in order to be able to fly side by side with his cute dragon named Toothless.

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Published by Claudia Barbu


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