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giving the middle finger to gravity December 10, 2007

Posted by KG in design, misc, news, science, tech.
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flying-man.jpg

taking bets on whether lance bass or mark cuban plan to sign up…

nytimes:

Jeb Corliss wants to fly — not the way the Wright brothers wanted to fly, but the way we do in our dreams. He wants to jump from a helicopter and land without using a parachute.

And his dream, strange as it sounds, is not unique. Around the globe, Mr. Corliss said, at least a half-dozen groups — in France, South Africa, New Zealand, Russia and the United States — have the same goal in mind. Although nobody is waving a flag, the quest has evoked the spirit of nations’ pursuits of Everest and the North and South Poles.

Mr. Jean-Albert figures he could glide to a stop on a snowy mountainside. “The basic idea is getting parallel to the snow so we don’t have a vertical speed at all, there is no shock, and then slide,” he said.

Then there is Maria von Egidy, a wing suit maker from South Africa, who said she had begun creating a suit that would allow pilots to land on their feet on a horizontal surface.

Modern suit design features tightly woven nylon sewn between the legs and between the arms and torso, creating wings that fill with air and create lift, allowing for forward motion and aerial maneuvers while slowing descent. As the suits, which cost about $1,000, have become more sophisticated, so have the pilots. The best fliers, and there are not many, can trace the horizontal contours of cliffs, ridges and mountainsides.

“Wing-suit flying totally changes the way you fly and you jump,” said Mr. Jean-Albert, who is seen in his YouTube video skimming six feet above skiers in the Swiss Alps. “It creates a third dimension because in normal skydiving your trajectories are pretty vertical.”

Some wing suit pilots have briefly slowed the vertical descent to about 30 miles an hour. But they are moving forward horizontally at 75 m.p.h. Even if a pilot could achieve such speeds, Mr. Potvin said, any slight wrong movement could cause a crash and certain death.

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