• The modern wingsuit is an engineering marvel, and can now reach speeds of almost 400km/h.
  • The first attempt at a wingsuit flight was in 1912. It did not end well.
  • Since then, wingsuits have been used off planes, from the tops of buildings and mountains; or even to cross large bodies of water.


Looking for a thrill? Try slipping into a garment that will make you look like a neon flying squirrel and then dive off the tallest cliff you can find.

The modern wingsuit is an engineering marvel, which can now help people reach speeds of 400km/h – with no engines attached. That's faster than a Formula One race car.

But many lessons in its development were learned. The first attempt at a wingsuit flight was in 1912. Franz Reichelt nicknamed “The Flying Tailor” leapt from the Eiffel Tower and plummeted to his death.

Skydive Dubai/Getty Images

It wasn’t until the 1990s when wingsuits became commercially available.

Since then, wingsuits have been used off planes, from the tops of buildings and mountains; or even to cross large bodies of water.

Examples of human daredevilry are many. In 2008, Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy flew from France to England over the English Channel with a single jet-powered wing strapped on his back, wearing only a helmet and a flight suit for protection. Leaping from a helicopter at an altitude of 2,500 meters, the flight took him just 13 minutes.

Another jump in the history books was made in 2013, when Russian Valery Rozov B.A.S.E jumped off Mount Everest. Despite concerns that there would not be enough air pressure to allow his wingsuit to inflate enough before the ground, he jumped anyway – and survived.

Photo by Thomas Senf/Getty Images

According to the United States Parachute Association any jumper must have a minimum of 200 freefall skydives before completing a wingsuit first jump course and making a wingsuit jump.

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