In Point Break there are all kinds of crazy stunts and extreme sports, but perhaps none as mind-blowing as the wingsuit flying. Putting on a suit and leaping off the top of a mountain is about as close to being Superman as you can get, and to make it all the more amazing there are no motors or propellers involved, it’s just you, your suit and the wind. Just what are the limits to what you can do with a wingsuit?
People have flown wingsuits from the roof of the world…
2013 was the 60th anniversary of the first ever successful ascent of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. What’s the best way to commemorate such an event? Russian extreme sports star Valery Rozov decided the only option was putting on a wingsuit and hurling himself off the top of the north face, falling 23,687 feet, the highest wingsuit jump so far. This isn’t something we’d advise doing on a whim, however. He prepared for the jump for two years.
Point Break goes to the other extreme, however. Their wingsuit flying sequence was filmed in two locations, one was near the small village of Lauterbrunnen in the Jungfrau region of the Swiss Alps. The other was known to extreme sports enthusiasts as “the Crack”. Based near Walenstadt in Switzerland, stunt performers actually dived into a crack in the ground, flying down a narrow crevice with no room for mistakes.
Stunt pilot Devore, who took part in the jump for the film, says, “The characters in the story are attempting the most challenging things, so for wingsuits that would be not only terrain flying but sub-terrain flying, which is what we have in Walenstadt: a location with a massive break, or crack, that we’re able to fly into so that we have earth on either side. It’s a situation where there are no outs—meaning, you can’t just fly away and pull your parachute.”You may be gliding across the law
The wingsuit is a relatively new phenomenon, and a lot of country’s are taking some time for the law to catch up with the new sport. In the UK you can’t fly a wingsuit without both a parachutists’ certificate, at least 500 jumps to your name and a number of other certified skills. If you’re at the French alpine centre at Chamonix, wingsuit flyers have been banned from using the two main lifts following wingsuit related injuries. The ban has been lifted, but wingsuit flyers now need to notify the correct authorities and can only fly at certain hours.
They can’t be too loose or too tight
If you want your wingsuit to work, you’re going to need it to fit just right. If it’s too loose the material will flap around too much while you’re flying. If it’s too tight it’s going to be uncomfortable, but it could also mean your zippermight fail.
The wingsuit is more than just a set of really baggy sleeves. There are leg straps, chest straps, a harness, and thumb loops over your altimeter and gloves, as well as emergency handles that you need to make sure won’t be covered up when the wingsuit opens.
While in flight you need to make sure your legs are straight with your knees locked and that your arms are parallel with your body. Even your toes need to be pointed!
Are you now considering getting your own wingsuit? Let us know in the comments.