Wingsuit History

1912 - Austrian Franz Reichelt leaps from the Eifeltower in a winged suit. The outcome is fatal, but it marks the beginning of many winged experiments in the years that come.


1930 - Several brave men such as Clem Sohn, Harry Ward and Leo Valentin put their mark on the discipline. Experimenting with new wing designs, risking life and limb to pursue their dream of flight. Most of them end up paying the ultimate price. But inspire many generations that follow.


1994 - Frenchman Patrick de Gayardon studies and jumps a revolutionary wingsuit design. Marking the beginning of modern skyflying. The suits are made of fabric only, with wings featuring a bottom and top surface, linked by ribs. The wings inflate with ram air like modern square parachutes. The suit features a safety system, allowing the wings to separate via a wire running down the wing and body. He does some incredible flights at the Mont Blanc, in the Grand Canyon, etc.


1997 - Patrick makes the first wingsuit BASE-jumps in Kjerag, Norway and Brento, Italy using a skydiving rig with a Stiletto 135 canopy. Patrick is the first to fly in close proximity to the ground, passing a few meters from l'Aiguille du Midi terasses, in front of journalists.


1997 - Patrick de Gayardon jumps out of a Pilatus Porter airplane and then flies back into the same plane with the aid of his wingsuit.


1997 - Frenchman Jean-Noel Iszstein builds a wingsuit based on the same concept as Patrick, and works on improvements together with the paraglider company ITV, and does basejumps with the wingsuit a year later.


1997 - Frenchman Loic Jean-Albert designs a wingsuit model. The suit is a so-called mono-wing design, with the suit encapsulating the whole body. A variation on Patrick de Gayardon's '3 wing' design, exhibiting different flight characteristics.


1998 - On a sunset jump with friend and wingsuit pilot Adrian Nicholas, Patrick de Gayardon dies due to rig modification.


1998 - Chuck Priest of Hawaiian jumpsuit company Da' Kine Rags creates a wingsuit, based on a modified design of Patrick de Gayardon.


1998 - Croatian jumpsuit designer Robert Pecnik designs a wingsuit based on Patrick de Gayardon's wingsuit, and together with Jari Kuosma from Finland forms the company Birdman and start commercially selling wingsuits in 1999. The wingsuit design features a redesigned safety cutaway. It is called the Birdman S.U.I.T.


1999 - Stephane Zunino and Loic Jean-Albert form the company Fly Your Body and start commercially selling their wingsuit design, named the S-Fly. The suits have zippers to attach the suit to the rig (instead of rigging like other designs), and also feature an emergency cutaway system.


1999 - Jari Kuosma travels around the world to sell the suits and get people to try flying them, creating a new discipline that has not stopped growing ever since. With the advent of new gear for basejumping, it's also the year where wingsuit basejumping goes public and starts to get an ever increasing number of jumpers.


1999 - Francis Heilmann builds a wingsuit model, and over the coming years develops several innovative designs with different materials.


1999 - Englishman Adrian Nicholas sets the first Guinness record using a wingsuit. Flying for 4:55 minutes crossing a distance of 7.5 kilometers in freefall from an altitude of 35.800 ft.


2000 - Loic Jean-Albert flies his wingsuit a few meters over the snow in Verbier, capturing the imagination of people worldwide. The video is one of the first 'YouTube virals' that got copied, uploaded, and viewed over and over again.


2000 - Birdman Inc. starts an instructional program, creating a structured way of teaching wingsuit flying to skydivers. Instructors are called Birdman Instructors. A limit of 200 skydives in the last 18 months, or total of 500 is set as the manditory experience level. In the years that follow, other manufacturers also set up instructional programs.


2001 - Robert Pecnik designs the B.A.S.E. pouch, a special secondary pilot-chute pocket, with Velcro bridle attachment that allows for quick and clean pulls on basejumps with a wingsuit.


2001 - Shaun Smith (a famous South African rock-climber) designs a wingsuit called the Sugar Glider to jump from Cape Town's Table Mountain. The suit will serve as the starting point for later 'big wing' designs, and is the first to feature an arm-wing that attaches almost at the base of the ankle.


2001 - A group of seven wingsuit flyers fly 2,5 kilometer from the Dutch Island of Texel to mainland Den Helder.


2002 - Vladimir Pesa flies a highly loaded elliptical parachute with retracted front risers together in freefall with Jari Kuosma in a wingsuit, and they briefly make contact. This is the first in a long line of wingsuit vs canopy experiments.


2002 - The Hercules Boogie in Sweden hosts the first international wingsuit formation flying event.


2002 - A Swedish 3 way wingsuit team led by Miachael Nordquis starts experimenting with slotted, sequential flying of points in wingsuit formations.


2003 - Felix Baumgarter and Max Dereta cross the 6,5 km Messina Strait from Italy to Sicili in freefall.


2004 - Robert Pecnik leaves Birdman Inc. and starts the company Phoenix-Fly. Pecnik creates a brand of wingsuits that focus on flight performance in the BASE environment. Over the years the company also starts catering to the skydiving market. Jean-Noel Iszstein, James Boole, Mirko Schmidt and Robert himself are test pilots for the brand.


2004 - The first completed (as considered by the community) big-way formations are flown at the Hercules Boogie. They are organised by Englishmen Andy Ford and Andrew Scott. All jumps made at the event are slot specific. A tightly spaced 11 way 'V' formation is regarded as the best formation flown.


2005 - A group of Norwegian BASE jumpers releases a DVD called Super Terminal. The DVD showcases wingsuits flying in close proximity to cliff rock faces for the duration of the jump, and coins the name 'proximity flying'. This new sub discipline quickly grows in popularity, and becomes one of the more popular activities within B.A.S.E. jumping.

2005 - Three Spanish skydivers from Projecto Alas cross the Straight of Gibraltar in wingsuits. They set a record of 6:05 minutes freefall time, and cover 20.4 km distance from an altitude of 35.000 ft.


2005 - German Christian Stadler organises Wings over Marl, a wingsuit competition using GPS data to analyse performance of the wingsuit pilots. The competition compares the performance within a set altitude range, and has prizes for best freefall time and furthest distance flown.


2005 - Chris Martin succesfully docks on a Xaos 21 canopy flown by Jeffro. He is accompanied by Perry Throwbridge and Scott Camposs. On a later jump, Chris Martin sadly dies, as the tiny canopy he jumps malfunctions on exit.


2005 - UK based Andy Ford and Fraser Corsan set a record 5:05 minute freefall from an altitude of 30.000 ft.


2005 - Finish wingsuit flyer Visa Parviainen starts experimenting with leg mounted Jet Engines on his wingsuit.


2006 - At a bigway boogie in Cochstedt, Germany, a Guinness 'mass exit' record is attempted. The jumpers exit a Antonov-72 cargoplane. Due to an unfortunate counting error, the 70 way exit is only a 69 way, and does not achieve record status.


2006 - The 9 person Birdman factory team Top Gun flies a series of tight formations with multiple points. They experiment with horizontal and vertical dive designs that deviate from the classic wedge shapes that have been flown up to this point.


2006 - Phoenix-Fly designer Robert Pecnik improves on the mesh inlets currently on all wingsuit models, modifying it into a scoop system on top of the shoulder. The system also allows for inflation when the suit is in reversed orientation, while backflying. This inflation system and several modified variations is now the standard on wingsuit models for most manufacturers.


2006 - South African Maria von Egidy and starts the company Jii-Wings together with Julian Boule, and creates a new wingsuit model featuring interchangeable wings.


2006 - The Hungarian jumpsuit company IntrudAir starts making its own wingsuit model for testing, and goes to commercially available designs in 2010.


2006 - Edgardo Guerrero of EG Suits and Nick Rugai of Nitro Rigging start designing and selling wingsuits.


2006 - Americans Jeff Nebelkopf and Tony Uragallo start designing and selling wingsuits through Tony Suits, a USA based jumpsuit manufacturer.


2006 - A performance competition is organised in Stupino, Russia. The competition features a GPS race in time and distance, as well as a freestyle round. This is the first time freestyle is added to a competition format, and it features one performer showing a series of creative moves to a cameraman.


2007 - Loic Jean Albert becomes the first human being in a wingsuit to dock with Luigi Cani who flies a 39 sq/ft parachute. The canopy is flown in landable configuration (no use of retracted front risers).


2007 - German Christian Stadler builds a rocket powered system, flying a wingsuit using hydrogen peroxide with a silver catalyst. The system works well, but control is difficult due to the immense thrust generated by the system.


2007 - In Gransee, Germany Mirko Schmidt organises a performance based wingsuit competition. Measuring performance by GPS, and allowing competitors to race against each other.


2008 - The first dedicated artistic event is organised at Skydive Spa, in Belgium. The format is designed by Costyn van Dongen & Jarno Cordia. Factory teams from Tony Suits, Phoenix-Fly and a range of other teams compete, flying a series of compulsory figures in teams with 2 performers and a cameraman. The competition has successfully been repeated in 2009, 2010 and has also sprung several national editions in Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and Argentina that use the same format.


2008 - At Skydive Spa, Belgium the first 5 way docked line of wingsuits is flown by Patrick de Guilebon, Tristan Whitmarsh, Jeff Nebelkopf, Jarno Cordia and Kristina Boole.


2008 - Expanding the format developed the year before, Mirko Schmidt organises "Wings over Gransee". Many international competitors attend the competition in speed, time and distance. It will expand rapidly over the years to come, and become one of the big annual events on the wingsuit calendar.


2008 - At Lake Elsinore, California a slot specific 71-way wingsuit formation is flown organised by Justin Shorb, Jeff Nebelkopf, Ed Pawlowski, Mark Harris, Taya Weis and Phil Peggs.


2008 - Paul Fortun organises the World Base Race for the first time in Norway. A B.A.S.E. competition, flying a head to head race. The race is similar to drag racing, with a set start and finish-line.

2008 - Australian couple Heather Swan and Glenn Singleman jump from 37,000 ft (11.27 km) over central Australia setting a world record for highest wingsuit exit.


2009 - Finish wingsuit flyer Visa Parviainen achieves level flight in a wingsuit, by attaching a set of model airplane jet engines to ski-boots. This stunt is repeated and the setup upgraded several times during the following years.


2009 - At Lake Elsinore, California a slot specific 68-way formation is flown. The event is organised by Justin Shorb, Jeff Nebelkopf, Taya weiss, Duncan Wright, Scott Callantine, Ed Pawlowski, Phil Peggs, Mark Harris, and Eli Bolotin.


2009 - A wingsuit BASE jumper unintentionally impacts a mountain in Russia, due to pulling too late. The canopy doesn't fully deploy, but the angle of the hill and thick layer of snow combined enable the jumper to survive this landing (but with many broken bones) at almost terminal speed. It's the closest to landing a wingsuit yet.


2009 - Three skydivers from Projecto Alas set a record of 6:47 minutes freefall time from an altitude of 30.000 ft.


2009 - The ProBASE Wingsuit Race is organized for the first time by Mirko Schmidt and Hubert Schober.


2009 - The International Artistic Wingsuit Competition is organised for the 2nd time. This time in Terni, Italy. The competition has an expanded set of rules, this time awarding flying style and camerawork higher. The addition of 'style' points make for a significant improvement, and forces people to really fly their suits to score.


2010 - Puerto Rico: A group of wingsuit flyers becomes the first to fly a 3-way formation with docks made on the feet of the base flyer. The flyers are Mike Swearingen, Andreea Olea and Justin Shorb. Realising the more difficult nature of this type of dock, Justin Shorb creates the online 'Docked Wingsuit Challenge' (open to anyone, anywhere) to further promote the format and increase the overall skill levels.


2010 - Skydivers fly a 16-way vertical diamond at an invitational wingsuit event, organized by Justin Shorb. The formation follows the layout of a normal diamond formation, only stacks the flyers in the vertical plane.


2010 - Fly Your Body and Tony Suits show prototypes for a commercially available integrated wingsuit and rig hybrid. The Norwegian group of basejumpers 'VKB' pioneered similar hybrid rig and tracking suit combination back in 2008, with a the suit called G3. Some other not very well documented experiments where also done before that time.


2010 - In a project they call 'Project XRW', Jeff Nebelkopf, Phill Peggs, Taya Weiss, and Will Kitto fly a series of challenging wingsuit vs canopy relative flights together with Jonathan tagle, Jessica Edgeington and Ian Bobo of the PD factory team. They fly several new style docks, among which a configuration that has the canopy rider surfing the wingsuit flyer's back. They also fly the first succesfull 2 way wingsuit dock on both left and righ hands of a canopy flyer.


2010 - Birdman Inc stops manufacturing wingsuits, and CEO Jari Kuosma steps down to pursue other ventures.


2010 - The International Artistic Wingsuit Competition is organised for the 3rd time, again in Terni, Italy. Some small refinements are made to the rules, and the competition format seems to come close to a fully functional set of rules. The competition format with a smaller divepool is also used for organisation of national editions in Australia and Argentina.


2010 - The performance competition Wings over Gransee is organised for the 3rd time, and is this time also included officially as German DFV-cup (Deutscher Fallschirsport Verband) German skydiving association.


2010 - The ProBASE Wingsuit Race is organized for the second time, and credited as the world cup of basejumping in newspapers worldwide.


2011 - Phoenix Fly forms the 'Need4Speed' factory team. The videos released by the team get views passing several millions, and get picked up by several major news outlets and websites.


2011 - The International Artistic wingsuit competition is organized for the 4th time, with a grand total of 10 competiting teams from all over the world. The top teams show a new level of flying not seen before.


2011 - Shin Ito makes it into the Guiness Book of Records with 2 high altitude records for distance and speed in a wingsuit.


2011 - Jeb Corliss flies his wingsuit through tianmen hole, China. A stunt broadcast all over the world live via satelite.


2011 - Wingsuits are featured in the big budget blockbuster 'Transformers 3', as well as in adverts for Mountain Dew and Sparkly water


2011 - A first invitational wingsuit event at Schaffen, Belgium showcases exciting new multi-point flat and vertical formations.


2011 - First National Performance Competitions organised in Italy, Benelux (Netherlands/Belgium), Ireland and USA


2011 - The performance competitions in Germany and Hungary are organized for the 4th and 6th time. The competition in Hungary shows a new high in attendance with 50+ contestants, making it one of the biggest in the world.


2011 - Wingsuit BASE jumping shows a lot closer proximity terrain flying, with lower and sharper flying. But also a dark year, with a sad total of 10 fatal wingsuit related accidents.


2012 - Jeb Corliss is severly injured when he accidently hits a ledge with his legs on Table Mountain (SA) for a TV show.


2012 - UK based wingsuit pilot and Hollywood stuntman Gary Connery announces a wingsuit landing attempt without a parachute. He will fly his wingsuit down and attempt a controlled crash into 350 ft of cardboard boxes.


2012 - Mini Cooper advertises their latest model with a (CGI) wingsuit stunt.


2012 - Skydive Elsinore hosts the first USA Artistic Wingsuit Competition, following the same format and rules as the International Artistic Wingsuit Competition.


2012 - Netheravond (UK) hosts the first Performance & Artistic wingsuit competitions. Both follow the known Artistic and Performance based competition formats.


2012 - Colombian Wingsuit Pilot Jhonathan Florez succesfully sets/improves current Guiness Wingsuit Distance and Time records.


2012 - UK Wingsuit Pilot Gary Connery succesfull lands a wingsuit without injury into a boxrig (stacked cardboard boxes) without deploying a parachute.


2012 - The first ever docked 4 way Diamond is flown in a wingsuit by Russian wingsuit pilots Pavel Demenchuk, Alex Drozdov, Dmitry Fisanov and Evgenia Boyko


2012 - Norwegian Wingsuit pilots Terje Halvorsen and Jan Petter Larsen dock on a small acrobatics airplane flown by Reidar Berntsen, and with aid of the plane achieve level flight for sustained periods.


2012 - 100 wingsuit flyers at Skydivee Perris (USA) set a record for biggest group jump for the Guiness Book of Records.


2012 - Reiner Ebert survives a wingsuit landing in the woods, without deploying a canopy.


2012 - WWL organizes a big televised wingsuit race in China. Similar in format to the World Base Race but timed individually with an added turn in the track


2013 - Alexander Polli does a series of flybys at the famous 'Crack' location in Switzerland, with various intentional touches and even passes/breaks through solid (foam) objects placed on the edge of the cliff.


2013 - Jumping from a helicopter, Alexander Polli flies through a small hole, in a mountain in Spain.


2013 - Russian Vallery Rosov becomes first to jump a wingsuit of Mt. Everest (nearby peak 'Mt Changtse'), setting the new record for highest wingsuit basejump at 7,220 meters (23,688 feet) above sea level.


2013 - Belgian Cedric Dumont & Colombian Jhonathan Florez make a wingsuit jump over the Nezca Lines in Peru.


2013 - Zach Schroedel organizes the first wingsuit 4 way competition in USA



Source: This document was written by Costyn van Dongen and Jarno Cordia with information acquired from the following people and sources:
Patrick de Guillebon, Douglas Spotted Eagle, Justin Shorb, Simon Brentford, Robert Pecnik, Henny Wiggers, Mirko Schmidt, Andreea Olea

http://www.worldlingo.com/ma/enwiki/en/Wingsuit_flying/1
http://www.loicjeanalbert.com/#/en/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingsuit


 

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