Friday, February 6, 2009

GEO.de wingsuit report

The German nature and science blog Geo.de has just published an wonderfull article and video on French wingsuit flyer and extreme sportsman, Loic Jean-Albert.
A good read, and the video is nothing short of spectacular.

Translated by: Jarno Cordia
click here for the original article (German)


Flying humans in wingsuits
Like birds, these extreme-sportsmen throw themselves of mountains.
At speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour they fly past cliffs and edges. A spectacular and breathtaking site.

See for yourself!



Loic Jean-Albert has been "flying" for about ten years now in his wingsuit, a winged overal.

In this interview he explains how the suit works and how it feels to fly like a bird.

Geo.de: Watching you "Fly" looks sensational. How do you do it?
Loic Jean-Albert:
We use a so-called Wingsuit, which works more or less like a glider plane. The relative wind inflates the suit, and traps the air in internal chambers, which forms the wing surface. This turns our fall into a glide.
To get the suit fully flying, you need approximately 150 meters of vertical altitude to get up to speed.

How fast you can fly? We are in full control of our flight. Depending on what we want to do, we can fly slower or faster. My slowest forward speed is around 120 kilometer per hour, my fastest around 250.

Can the suits take such speeds?
We certainly hope so. I have founded a company that designs and manufactures Wingsuits myself. S-Fly is the brand-name. We use strong materials for construction, the same ones that are also used for boat sails. So far, not a single one has ripped.
The suits are available in different sizes from S to XL. A suit costs around 750 euros.

In the video, it almost looks as if you could touch the wall. How close were you really?
At the moment, we fly at a distance of around three meters.

Do you still have the room for evasive actions if a rock suddenly appears?
What we do with the Wingsuit can be compared to driving a racecar at high speeds.
Though everything happens really fast, there is still time to react.

What does it feel like?
It is hard to describe. Exciting. I imagine it being similar to what a bird experiences. It is always very spectacular.

What would be the next development in Wingsuit flying?
We are working hard at becoming even more precise in our flying. This so we can be even more flexible at controlling our flightpath and speed.
At the moment, we need to fly our wingsuit very steep the first couple of seconds of our jump, to get up to flying speed. We are working on getting it to fly quicker from the start.

How often you actually fly?
Approximately three to four times a year I fly my wingsuit of mountains into the valley. What I do more often is jumping from airplanes, because you can just fly a lot longer and you don't need a 150 meter dive first to get the wingsuit up to flying speed.

You are father of two children. What if one of your children would like to fly someday?
I would have no problems with that. The most important thing is having the proper skills; the better prepared you are, the lower the risk. Of course I am aware of the danger - even when Im flying myself. But I have been doing this since 1998, and you don't just suddenly stop doing what you love, just because you have children.

Interview: Bianca Gerlach

Join Jean-Albert (30) was born at Réunion, and lives in the French Alps together with his wife and two children. He has been a skydiver for 14 years.
His website with even more videos: www.loicjeanalbert.com
Daredevils can order a Wingsuit here: www.flyyourbody.com

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