BASE, standing for Buildings, Antenna, Span, Earth( read cliff) jumping is a sport where people jump from fixed locations instead of planes. It derived from skydiving and it is a tight margin of error with the freefall from jump to parachute launch – with specially designed parachutes. Not exactly legal in Canada but some enthusiasts are trying to change that situation.
Wingsuit flying is a highly specialized extreme sport that takes its name from the winged suit that the flyer wears. Sometimes called birdman or squirrel suit, these suits are special designed to increase surface area of the human body and create lift. They normally consist of two arm wings and a leg wing, supported by pressurized inflatable nylon cells. They substantially increase the surface area and slow descent allowing more time in freefall. A parachute is deployed toward the end of the descent as the suit alone cannot provide enough controlled lift to land safely.
For efficient flight it takes years of practice for the flyer to learn how to control his body to ensure the speed, direction and lift are maximized. There are a number of disciplines to found in wingsuit flying, a summary of these are:
- Artistic – team competition on style and camera technique.
- Performance – using GPS to measure flight performance.
- XRW – complex team skydiving using large wingspan suits and small parachutes.
- Flocking – group of 12 or less wingsuit flyers in pre planned formation
- BASE Wingsuit – flying from a fixed object
- Proximity flying – advanced Wingsuit BASE flying, where the objective is to get a close to a planned object as possible
Both sports hold risks, but according to statistics, BASE jumping is the higher risk sport and BASE wingsuit flying and proximity flyer are considered to be the most, dangerous sport in the world. I have actually tried BASE jumping twice and the adrenaline rush is beyond belief but I made a promise to my wife when we married I would not do it again and after the recent death of two Canadians this year and the statistics I have looked at for this post, I will have to be honest and say I am glad it will be a memory – fantastic one but not one I will repeat. Is this your sport? Why? Is the rush worth the risk?