What is the future of human flying in base jumping?

By 24/04/2014Insight
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Photo: Noah Bahnson

Skydive Dubai just posted a video of spectacular dynamic flying with and without wingsuit from Burj Khalifa, Dubai. It was an achievement only possible due to years and years of a life as professional freeflyers in skydiving. See Soulflyers do dynamic flying from Burj Khalifa

Last summer the top of Jungfrau was jumped with a wingsuit by Patrick Kerber. The flight itself was not done as radical as one often see online, but the climb up was as impressive as the flight down. They call it para-alpinism. The art of ascending the mountains and using a wingsuit to get safely down. See Patrick Gerber set new World Record from Jungfrau

This is two directions in the use of human flight that both are physically harder and safer than the classic proximity flying. Do we see the early signs of a change in direction in human flight?

In 2005 Loic-Jean Albert introduced the world to proximity flying. At that time him and Julian Boule, who also had a part in the latest Burj Khalifa video, had already done it for a few years. They were a game changer in basejumping and their way of using a wingsuit reached the big crowds on social medias. It was the thing to get into for us all, and it gave an extreme sensation of speed as you bussed down a mountain only a few meters above the ground. And people loved it. Jeb Corliss got 26 million hits on youtube with ”Grinding the Crack”. Now, years later, we are discussing the down side of proximity flying. There are way to many accidents, and it takes away the fun.

While this discussion are ongoing the two above diections are emerging. But they require so much more than the classic proximity flying. Its not enough be bold. When I see the videos of Laurent Fraat, Ellen Brennan and Rock Malnuit I know that this is something extra. They need the high wingsuit skills, but at the same time being an alpinist. It may require so much hard work they will have to choose not to hang out on drop zones with the people from the other direction; the people behind the dynamic flights from Burj Khalifa. What I also believe, is that people who choose to keep on going with the hard core classic proximity flying is defenitely going to have fun, but they will never be as highly regarded as the best paraalpinists and the dynamic flyers. The new directions represent a safer, more spectacular and more demanding future of human flight. Exiting times to come!

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Join the discussion 9 Comments

  • Chris Byrnes says:

    Great article Espen. Awesome to see human flight progressing not only in difficulty but safety as well. I agree, definitely exciting times to come.

  • Michael Nordqvist says:

    Very well written. The Jungrau jump was the most exiting video of last year and the Burj Khalifa is by far the most exiting video this year. Exciting times to come indeed!

  • Thanks for the great blog Espen. Our sports are mixing and evolving. This revolution and evolution is just the start of where things are and where they are going. There are lots of exciting times ahead.

  • Al says:

    Great article.
    What I also see from the video is the 3rd person capturing the awesome footage during that jump.
    Its the skill of jumpers and flyers who capture the footage that lets non-jumpers like myself enjoy and follow this sport.
    Cheers.

    • Espen Fadnes says:

      Absolutely. The wing suit flight is captured by Julian Boule. A pioneer of flying and world champion. Noah Bahnson catered the second jump. Also wing suit champion, and regarded maybe the best overall flyer in the world. Yep. One needs the best to look good. It is to be said that Vince and Fred is a dream team.

      • Emil says:

        I see “the best flyer in the world” very often for different people. Not uderestimating Noah Bahnson though. Not easy question to answer who the best really is. 🙂

        • Espen Fadnes says:

          Good point Emil. It may be hard to answer such a question, and in many ways also not important. Fred and Vince are world champions in the discipline freefly. A discipline they perform from Burj Khalifa in the later video. Julian Boule who films them wing suit flying won WWL in 2012 and victory in overall Pro Base Race World Cup. Noah came second in WWL 2013. All of them are part of Skydive Dubai Team. In the community I would say people agree this is the top of the pops.

  • Excellent article Espen as usual, you just resumed everything and this is the direction we need to embrace!

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