Spread your arms and glide like a bird?
Dreams of flying through the air like a superhero have captivated human imagination since time immemorial.
Early wingsuits were made of materials such as canvas, wood, silk, steel, and even whale bone. They were not very reliable. between 1930 and 1961, 72 of the 75 original birdmen died testing their wingsuits.
Resembling something between a flying squirrel and a snow angel, the wingsuit allows skydivers and BASE jumpers to leap out into the void, spread their arms and glide through the air.
The wingsuit is a special jumpsuit with fabric sewn between the legs and arms to form an airfoil shape which significantly increases lift.
A wingsuit flight ends with the safe deployment of a parachute, so a wingsuit can be flown from any point that provides sufficient altitude to glide through the air and allow a parachute to deploy, such as an aircraft, mountain or BASE jumping exit point.
Where do I start?
Contact the British Parachute Association (BPA) or one of the 25 parachute clubs/centres approved by and affiliated to the British Parachute Association. These are spread throughout the UK and maybe try a tandem parachute jump. Whichever method you choose for your first jump, there is an organised structure for you to learn about the sport and advance at a safe pace. You will be assessed by BPA instructors, they will progress you to the next stage when you are ready.
Your first freefall can be as early as your sixth jump and will usually be a five second delay. The time you spend in freefall will be gradually increased and you will start to learn body flying skills such as turns and forward movement. About 30 jumps and you can qualify as a fully fledged skydiver. From there, all the different avenues of the sport are open to you!