You’ve undoubtedly seen countless incredible videos of those flying squirrel men and women screaming past vast rugged mountain landscapes, skyscraper balconies, or through the sky together. Maybe you’ve never seen it and thought - that is just plain CRAZY! Or perhaps you’re wondering to yourself - how do I get to do that!? Either way, you’ve found yourself down the rabbit hole trying to find out more wingsuit flying. Don’t worry, we’re here to give you a rundown.
For those who are just curious and have never seen wingsuit flying before, especially down mountains, we understand it can be a challenging concept to wrap your head around. We get all kinds of questions and often people just want to know “How do you land those things!?”. Well, you don’t! In fact, you land a parachute. After a wingsuit flight, a parachute must be deployed before landing safely on the ground. On the other hand, maybe you’re a new skydiver looking for the next step in your progression toward becoming a wingsuit pilot - that’s a great thing! Either way, here are a few things you need to know.
Wingsuit Flying, also called wingsuiting, is a variation of the sport of skydiving. In this discipline, a person will fly through the air using a special suit. A wingsuit is comprised of two arm wings of varying sizes and a single leg wing that has inflatable pressurized nylon cells, which if we skip past the rest of the technical jargon basically turns your whole body into a wing.
Modern wingsuits were developed in the 1990’s and in the beginning, were sometimes referred to as birdman suits or flying squirrel suits. In wingsuiting, the “pilot” uses his or her body to control their direction, speed, and lift, and as you can imagine this allows the pilot an outrageous increase in performance, stretching the freefall time from a normal skydiving altitude of forty-five to sixty seconds all the way to more than two minutes, with forward speeds of close to 200 miles-per-hour. These modern suits have such dramatic performance capabilities that a skilled wingsuit pilot can actually stop their descent briefly and even climb in altitude!
To get started you’ll just need to head down to your local skydiving center for a quick suit fitting and a few minutes of instruction and… Yeah, nah… sorry ‘bout that. We’re afraid we have to break the bad news to you. It’s going to be a good while before wingsuiting will be on the menu for you if you’re not already a skydiver, as you need a good amount of experience first. But fear not! The news isn’t bad, it’s actually really good!
While you can’t just show up to the dropzone and toss on a wingsuit, it’s most certainly something that you can reasonably work toward. Making that first jump and getting licensed is the beginning, all of which is incredibly fun and rewarding. As you gain valuable experience both in freefall and under canopy, you will quickly build up the skills and safety-oriented habits you’ll need to take on the challenge of wingsuit training. It’s an absolutely achievable goal and one that our instructors and coaches can help guide you through every step of the way.
Every journey starts with that first step, this one starts with your first jump, and for that, you’ve come to exactly the right place! With incredibly talented instructors and an excellent Accelerated Freefall Program, Chicagoland has everything you’ll need to start turning that dream into reality.
If you’re already a jumper and thinking it’s time to take on a new challenge, then it might be the perfect time to talk to our staff about finding the right local coach and the instruction you’ll need to start your new journey in this amazing discipline.