Wingsuit flying is something else. That and BASE jumping. They are about as extreme as our extreme sports go…
“The oldest rule in base jumping is to never ask permission just forgiveness!” Shane McConkey
If you are new to the concept, this is a fabulous video brought to us by redbull and dedicated to Shane McConkey who died on 26th March, 2009 whilst skiing and wingsuit flying in the Italian Dolomites. His death was the result of faulty equipment.
This particular video, which brings the sport so much to life, was taken in New Zealand when Shane, Miles Daisher and Chuck Berry explored unchartered terrain in new Zealand – another incredible Red Bull project.
The Department of Conservation in Queenstown, New Zealand, gave the team permission to film in Sinbad Gully.
As Shane says, in his blog, “Chuck has done plenty of recon work in most of Fiordland over the years so he had a very good idea where we needed to look to find big cliffs for us to jump. It would all be completely exploratory base jumping. Most of the Fiordland area has never seen a base jump. The problem is access. The mountains in Fiordland are impressive. They shoot straight up and maintain a steep angle all the way to the top. Normally base jumpers can find a way to hike to a good exit point usually with minimal climbing required. Not here. Just about everything in the area is steep, rugged terrain that would require at the very least a few days of serious climbing and rope work. We had the time and the gear but didn’t have an exact jump that we knew was possible so we decided to hire a helicopter and went big wall hunting the easy way. We flew straight to to one of the gems that Chuck has had circled on his map. The mountain was called Terror Peak and the cliff just below it was perfect. A 3,400 foot jump to the valley floor with a 1,000 foot start and some fun ledges and terrain to buzz with our wingsuits. An easy jump and flight with some great visuals along the way down.”
And the result of it was that fabulous video, and another sensational place for wingsuit flyers and BASEjumpers to practice their terrifying art!
“Miles coined the jump “Terrorflying” even though the jump was anything but that! For a base jumper, pioneering new jump sites, or what we call “Opening a new object” is perhaps the most exciting aspect of the sport. The sport is still quite young and the base world is still being discovered and mapped. To have the opportunity to open up a new site, and a big one, in a stunning place like Fiordland is an amazing experience. It was one I will not soon forget!” said McConkey.
In a sense, wingsuit flying is a cross between skydiving and hang gliding. Like both of these activities, wingsuit flying requires the flyer to either jump out of an aircraft or off a precipice to achieve a high enough altitude. While hang gliders can coast in for a safe landing, wingsuit flyers have to deploy their parachutes and float the rest of the way to the ground – they simply can’t reduce their speed fast enough for a safe landing without the use of a chute.
But, until the moment they pull their parachute chord, wingsuit flyers can soar horizontally, like a bird, at high speeds and perform aerial acrobatics – all the while descending at a rate much slower than that of a typical skydiver.
It must be an exhilarating sport – albeit a death defying one.
This is the same crew doing mainly BASEjumps from a cliff they later called ‘Sin Good’ as “it was anything but bad”. The video is from shanemcconkey.
You might have noted the Red Bull wingsuits, the Red Bull Chutes etc. So what has Red Bull got to do with all this?
You all know what Red Bull is don’t you? That sexy slender container that contains an energy drink produced and sold by the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH and sold in over 130 countries.
However, it also has an aggressive international marketing campaign. The numerous sponsored activities range from extreme sports like windsurfing, snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, wingsuit flying, BASEjumping, surfing, Formula 1 racing, and breakdancing to art shows, music, and video games.
They play a very active role in extreme sports.
We’ll finish with a longish video, also from redbull, of the boys and Red Bull having a ball in China and BASEjumping a Chinese sinkhole… and anything else that looked interesting along the way. It took months of negotiation to get the government to allow the Red Bull Air Force and friends into their borders for the BASE jumping session at one of China’s natural wonders, and although no professional film crew was allowed to accompany them, each diver operated a personal camera with great success:
This article is dedicated to Shane McConkey. He will be sorely missed.