One passion in life for many people is severe risk taking, which can be an escape from life’s evils. And one of the most extreme risk taking and exhilarating activities on this earth is wingsuiting. In this act of defying the laws of nature, wingsuiters exit the ground and enter the air, reaching up to 127 mph, known as terminal velocity. They then use their feet as rudders to steer in the air, directing themselves to a destination point while evading death. Finally, to end the jump, they deploy parachutes, as wingsuits cannot provide a safe landing. There is nothing that can make you feel more alive than staring death in the face and living in the moment.
The genesis of wingsuiting began with fatal experiments in the 1940s in Europe. Up until recently in 1997, wingsuiting was not accepted until the invention of the first successful wingsuit. However, as the sport increases in popularity, so do the number of fatalities. The most dangerous version of the sport, proximity flying, has resulted in more deaths than any other sport. There have been 87 wingsuit fatalities in the last 13 years, with the number increasing every year as more and more people participate.
The number of risks in this activity are tremendous. Besides the obvious danger of hitting rocks and trees while traveling at an extremely high rate of speed, many wingsuiters also experience equipment failure. Even initiating the jump is a very risky proposition and can result in cliff collisions. It is questionable as to why proximity flying is so popular, as the dangers are just insanely high. Even the most expert wingsuiters are exposed to major dangers of hitting protruding objects or losing control for a split second. The thrill is obviously great, but human flight in the open air is much safer.
Despite all these risks, many people find a refuge and way of life in this sport, as seen by the story of this one cancer surviving wingsuiter. This seems to be a hobby for those that have nothing left to lose, whether from personal disasters or health problems. According to Daniel Rodriguez, you can’t think of anything else when you’re wingsuiting. You have to be completely in the moment, and when you’re in the moment, everything else goes away. This might only be a temporary escape, but sometimes when you can begin to forget, it can eventually become permanent. Life is mostly mental, and being able to change your mental state can change you. Many of these wingsuiters are also traveling to the most exotic and breathtaking locations in the world, bonding with nature in ways that only a small number of humans have in history.