HIGH in the sky over Tianmen Mountain in China, a host of daredevils threw caution to the wind… by throwing themselves off a 4,600ft-high ledge.
This was the scene at the first World Wingsuit Championship in Hunan Province on Thursday.
One by one, the eight finalists leapt from the cliff and negotiated a 1.2km-long obstacle course which involved whizzing across a valley, diving beneath a cable car, and other extreme acrobatics, before engaging their parachutes and landing on a red-carpeted mountain road. The rules were simple: the fastest flyer wins. One by one, the eight finalists leapt from Tianmen Mountain. The flyers had to negotiate a 1.2km-long obstacle course. The daredevils had to whizz across a valley, dive beneath a cable car and perform various other extreme acrobatics. The rules of the contest were simple: the fastest flyer wins. South African Julian Boulle took first place – setting the benchmark for the wingsuit flying record – with a time of 23.41 seconds. Mr Boulle has made more than 11,000 skydives and 1,600 wingsuit flights.
Second place went to Norwegian ace Espen Fadnes, who finished the run in 23.55 seconds.
And James Boole, from Britain, came in third, with 23.84 seconds. It was a remarkable achievement for Mr Boole, a professional sky diver – as in April 2009, he fell 6,000ft crashing into snow at 100mph after his parachute failed to open during a wingsuit flight over Kamchatka, Russia. He broke his back, cracked a rib, chipped several teeth and bruised a lung but amazingly, he lived to tell the tale.
Forced to wear a body brace for three months, he never thought he would be able to jump again.
Each wingsuit consists of fabric stretched between a skydiver’s arms and legs – adding surface area to the human body. This allows them to travel horizontally, as well as slow their descent towards the ground. There are just 20 people in the world who are qualified to take part in such a competition.
The contest was originally scheduled to start on October 12 but bad weather made flying conditions too dangerous. Tianmen Mountain is in Zhangjiajie, and the word Tianmen translates as ‘gate in the sky’ – a reference to the huge natural hole in the mountain.
courtesy: The Nation