The first few seconds of this video have been seen before – on this site too. It was one of the first and one of the best proximity flying videos at the time. What is amazing about the excerpt shown on the following video is that it is from a different angle and the speed… well, the speed … it’s extreme!
JokkeSommer is the flyer and he really does give the expression “fly like a bird” new meaning doesn’t he? Proximity flying at its best… if it was me in that wingsuit I’d choose a trajectory straight down the middle of that valley!
24 year old Sommer lives between Norway and Switzerland and pursues this sport with a passion. As a child he was fascinated by anything that flew but as he grew up his passion and enthusiasm landed him in the world of motocross with his feet (or wheels) firmly planted on terra firma. However, in the summer of 2007 he and a close friend decided that this new sport of wingsuit flying was for them and with this as their end goal they signed up for an AFF skydiving course. In 2008 Sommer headed to the States where he completed 250 jumps in 2 months to gain the required experience to be allowed to wingsuit fly. After returning to Norway he signed up for a BASE jumping course and travelled to Kjerag to make his first jump… and the rest of his story is thoroughly documented on YouTube!
Jokke Sommer is of the opinion that accidents can be avoided if you adhere to a few simple rules, the most important one being “you should NOT fly proximity if you don’t have good flying skills and manage to fly your suit 100%!”
I have precis-ed below his main guidelines for proximity flying, but I suggest you follow the link to read more – always bearing in mind that his guidelines are not the definitive guide – merely from his experience…
- First step to a good flight lies in the exit, so if you usually start flat, try some steep exits and you might be surprised how it will affect the rest of your flight.
- Use your time and know the area: A simple rule is to jump a cliff multiple times before you go close. A good tip is to spend a few hours on Google Earth the night before you go to a new cliff. Measure heights, distances and create a line you want to fly, suitable for your experience level. Doing easy homework like that makes you a bit more ready for the jump.
- Fly the line you planned, but with a good safe margin. It might look clean on Google Earth, but a tree or a ledge is usually not so easy to see on the computer screen.
- Just remember that speed is the main key. The faster the better, but find a nice balance and your own comfort zone.
- Plan A and Plan B: The difference between your main plan and your escape plan can in some cases be the difference between life and death. ALWAYS have an escape plan! If flying close to a wall, be ready for a quick disconnect.
- Do not hunt your shadow. Although fun it can be distracting and very dangerous.
- If you are not 100% comfortable flying your suit steep and fast, you should NOT fly over stuff.
- If you do choose to do a long setup, fly relaxed! It`s not a good idea to be tired in your arms when you start a 1 min long proximity line. If you get tired, abort your flight.
- Reserve: ALWAYS fly with reserve, the more the better! And do as much training as you can beforehand so you understand what they mean by ‘reserve’ and know when to use it, and how to get the most out of it when you need it!
- Current: always keep current with a jump … you might have done the jump a few months before but that does not mean that it will be the same the second time round.
The other all important question is… which wingsuit? This is obviously personal but for Somers the decision has been made. “There is only one choice for me. The suits from Phoenix Fly. Made by professional proximity flyers, with performance in mind. The Phantom 2 and the Vampire are suits have amazing stability, tons of speed and a quick response when it comes to handling. All the important aspects you need while you fly proximity.”
Here’s some more absolutely awesome flying. My heart was in my mouth, I can’t imagine how he stays so cool!
These are his comments re that flight: “On the Tabasco line, the setup was the most important factor of the flight. Did five jumps where I tried different setups. The easiest way would be to exit high and far back, then aim and fly trough the crack, but I wanted it to be a line with proximity before and after flying through.
After two flights I got a bit skeptic and had to change the setup. I skipped some of the first proximity, mostly because I had to do a hard turn towards the crack after flying over the ridge. Also, the angle of attack was way too steep.
Two more flights, but still no crack attack. Since it’s hidden around the corner the setup is a bit hard to figure out, but two more flights meant two more checkpoints. So, on the final flight a few weeks later I didn’t care so much about the proximity, only had focus on the setup for the checkpoints.
With a 40 second long setup, I had time to find my sweet spot and get comfortable with the flight conditions, which was very good that day. Since I couldn’t see the crack, I was flying towards my checkpoints. If my calculations where right, the crack should be straight up front and slightly below with a nice angle of attack.
After passing the checkpoints, the crack was at the spot I had imagined. Then I had 3 sec to make up my mind if I was going for plan A or B. Conditions were good, I had a comfortable glide and perfect speed. It looked pretty tight, but I had already done my homework when it came to whether I would fit through or not. Still had a good feeling, so decided to fly trough the widest part at the top of the crack.. And yeah, it was scary!”
I’m afraid I couldn’t end this article without leaving you with yet another magnificent video…
And its not only wingsuit flying that this boy is into. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands because here’s another great video… this one is filmed in Wengen, Switzerland where Sommer’s does a little speed flying… a more exotic form of snow-kiting.
Jokke Sommer has a new website. You might want to make your way over there…. http://jokkesommer.net