re-sized Polli

Alexander Polli takes wingsuit flying to a whole new level

This is incredible. Wingsuit flying is already extremely dangerous, knife-edge stuff. Not to be taken lightly. But Polli makes it look easy.

In this video he takes human flight one step further with the first-ever successful wingsuit target strike. Reaching speeds of 250 km/h (155 mph), Polli guides his flight through precisely placed foam slalom gates at key turns as he pilots downhill – a feat never before accomplished!

Shot in full HD with multiple angles, Alexander literally breaks through the barriers of what is possible in human flight.

It is extraordinary to think how far wingsuit flying has come in a relatively short period. Although the first form of wingsuit was invented in the 1930′s and was showcased in the movie The Gypsy Moths starring Burt Lancaster and Gene Hackma in 1969, these suits were not very reliable and were made of materials such as canvas, wood, silk, steel, and even whale bone. However, in 1997 French skydiver Patrick de Gayardon showed reporters a wingsuit with allegedly unparalleled safety and performance, but he died in Hawaii in April 1998 while testing a new modification to his parachute container.

By now wannabe birdmen around the world were racing to come up with the ultimate wingsuit and in 1999 Jari Kuosma of Finland and Robert Pecnik of Croatia teamed up to create a wingsuit that was safe and accessible for all skydivers. The wingsuit dramatically changes the sport of skydiving. A typical skydiver’s terminal velocity in belly to earth orientation ranges from 110 to 140 mph (180–225 km/h). A wingsuit can reduce these speeds dramatically. A vertical instantaneous velocity of −25 mph (−40 km/h) has been recorded. However the speed at which the body advances through the air is still much higher.

At least 200 freefall skydives made within 18 months and one-on-one instruction from an experienced wing suit jumper, or 500 jumps experience to go without an instructor are required before you are allowed to purchase a wingsuit.

Following a natural progression, wingsuit flying soon morphed, for some, into proximity flying which is the ultimate challenge of flying close to the faces and ridges of mountains. They’re not called Birdmen for nothing. However, it is even more dangerous than wingsuit flying and casualties are high. There are not that many proximity wingsuit flyers and 10 of them died in 2011 alone.

But the sport is here to stay and in November 2012, Alexander Polli became the first BASEjumper/Wingsuit flyer (now known as a WiSBASE jumper) to successfully strike a target made of foam and standing about 10 ft tall, as shown in the above video. And I couldn’t resist showing you this amazing video too…

What next then for this highly technical sport?

Lola Jones

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