The Coolest Thing We've Seen In A While

A bit more invigorating than, say, a round of 18. 

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.


Unfortunately, you can’t mention the sport without noting that it’s invigorating for a reason.  One of the sport’s most famous practitioners, Shane McConkey, died last month at 39, while wingsuit-base-jumping-on-skis in the Dolomites.  

The FT has an excellent tribute:

Shane McConkey, the man who found ways to ski off skyscrapers, was able to “slip the surly bonds of earth”, as poet John Magee put it, and enter an exhilarating and giddy world where few mortals could venture.

Having helped pioneer what came to be called ski base-jumping – leaping from mountains or cliffs using a parachute to land safely – he moved on to something even more exotic: wingsuiting. He used a special suit that shaped the body into a human aerofoil with fabric sewn between the legs and under the arms. This enabled him to become a self-powered “birdman” before finally opening a parachute – a technique one observer likened to a “flying squirrel”.

“Wingsuiting blows people away – it blows me away every time I do it,” McConkey said. “There’s no joystick, no bar, no steering wheel – you’re flying your own body. It’s so damned fun. You ski off a cliff, pull your skis off and you’re flying – you’re a bird. You open your wingsuit and you’re off. It’s the greatest feeling ever.”…

In an interview shortly before his death, McConkey acknowledged that many people thought what he did for a living was reckless. “We ski wherever we want,” he said. “People think we have a screw loose, that we’re crazy and have a death wish and all that stuff – that we’re going to kill ourselves.

“Yes, what we do is dangerous, but I’m lucky – I know how to do it. It’s changed the way we look at mountains. We’re not crazy – not totally! For me it would be crazy to live in a big city and work on Wall Street. That’s insane. I would never do that. I’m living the dream. It’s the greatest job ever.”

Read the whole thing >

Here’s a list of the folks who have been killed doing this and regular BASE jumping since the early 1980s.  The more recent fatalities, and the stories of what went wrong, are toward the bottom.

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