Birdmen fly into the record booksJuly 23, 2008
As extreme as you can get, in many senses, wingsuit flying is right up there with the other extreme sports and now I hear of people practicing their ‘hobby’ so as to create a record – well done guys, great effort. Thanks to Carlos Mayorga of the Salt Lake Tribune for reporting this story.
‘For Scott Callantine, sky diving is more than a hobby: It’s freedom.
The 38-year-old from Seattle, who in a period of 18 years has logged almost 4,000 jumps, including 400 in a wingsuit, was one of several sky divers who set three Utah sky diving slot-perfect formation records over the weekend above Tooele County.
The men set the state record in a 10-person open diamond and nine-person closed-diamond formations, all flying in a formation within 24 inches of their pre-assigned positions, breaking state records previously set by a group of only six, said Stockton sky diver Douglas Spotted Eagle. The group also set a new nine-way vertical formation record, a technique that has never been attempted in Utah, he said. Spotted Eagle brought in wingsuit pilots from across the country for the attempt.
Callantine came close to setting a world record for nonpowered human flight in a wingsuit, descending with five others from a plane 22,000 feet above Farnsworth Peak in Tooele County on Sunday. Strong head winds hindered the attempt – Callantine’s impressive 6-mile, four-minute descent was just short of a world record, Spotted Eagle said.
The men, wearing special nylon suits that allow them to fly across the sky, were hoping to reach the Tooele Valley Airport, a distance of nine miles.
“The wind was definitely not in our favor. It was blowing us all over the sky, Spotted Eagle said. “It was a great attempt and we hope to be able to come back and do this again.”
But for Callantine, who jumps dozens of times every month all over the U.S., wingsuit sky diving represents much more than breaking records.
“Surprisingly for me, it’s very relaxing to jump,” he said. “I have a long time to think. On the ground there’s lots of stresses, so I look forward to jumping. It’s a release for me.”
Justin Shorb, 27, of Salem, N.H., who has been sky diving for 10 years and wingsuit sky diving for three, founded Flock University, a Massachusetts-based school that teaches sky divers to be wingsuit pilots.
“It’s a skilled discipline so it takes a lot of experience before you can try it,” said Shorb, who flew a distance of four miles Sunday. “You need 200 sky dives before you can try a wingsuit.”
Because of the local popularity with wingsuit sky diving, Flock will soon open a branch in Tooele, Shorb noted.
In November, these six sky divers will team up with several others to attempt a world-record formation of 71 people above Lake Elsinore, Calif., Callantine said.’
Wow that will be an amazing feat – I’ve included a YouTube video put together by mccordia which shows two wingsuit flying formations, one with six people and the other with seven – so I guess the attempt to fly a formation with 71 people later in the year is going to be a truly world beating record that won’t be broken for many years. Having personally never ‘flown’ in a wingsuit I am intrigued to note the versatility and manoeuverability of the wingsuit flyers in mccordia’s video which makes me think that the formation of 71 flyers is a possibility – good luck guys.