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- Wingsuit flyers land using a parachute just like other extreme air sports.
- Aim to pull your parachute 1,000 - 2,000ft above the ground at the lowest.
- A reserve parachute can save your life if your main parachute fails.
Watching wingsuit divers fly is mesmerizing, but you might be wondering how they land. Learn everything about how wingsuit flyers land in this expert guide.
Wingsuit flyers land by using a parachute to stop their freefall and slow their descent, just like skydivers and BASE jumpers. You should always have a properly functioning main parachute, reserve parachute, altimeter, and protective gear on every flight to make the landing as safe as possible.
Unlike other sites out there, we are enthusiasts just like you. One of my biggest goals with FlightNotch is to share my passion for aviation and extreme air sports and try to get as many other people involved as I possibly can. That’s why all of our content is crafted and curated to be as helpful as possible, just like this one where we teach you everything about landing as a wingsuit diver.
What is Wingsuit Flying?
Wingsuit flying is a thrilling airsport that allows you to glide through the air like a bird, using a specially designed suit. In this section, we will explore the components, principles of flight, and design aspects of a wingsuit.
Components of a Wingsuit
A wingsuit is a webbing-sleeved jumpsuit that adds surface area to your body. This added surface area allows you to generate lift and reduce drag, enabling you to fly gracefully through the air. The main components of a wingsuit are:
- Wings: Large fabric wings connect your torso to your arms and legs, forming airfoils to produce lift.
- Airfoil: The shape of the wings creates a curved surface, allowing air to flow smoothly over and under them, generating lift.
- Parachute: An essential part of any wingsuit, the parachute is attached externally on the back and is used for a safe landing.
Principles of Flight
While you may not be soaring like an eagle, the physics behind wingsuit flying relies on the same fundamental principles that govern the flight of birds and airplanes. These principles are:
- Lift: The air flowing over the curved wings of a wingsuit generates an upward force called lift, counteracting gravity.
- Drag: The resistance experienced by your body and wingsuit as you move through the air is called drag, which slows you down.
- Gravity: The force that pulls you towards the earth.
- Thrust: Your initial jump from a high point provides the forward momentum to start gliding.
By adjusting your body position, you can control the ratio of lift and drag, and maneuver through the air.
A great deal of research and innovation goes into creating a wingsuit that optimizes performance and safety. Some key design factors include:
- Surface Area: The larger the surface area, the more lift is generated. However, a balance must be struck to ensure that the suit is maneuverable and not too bulky.
- Airfoil Shape: The curvature of the wings is vital in optimizing lift and reducing drag.
- Material: Wingsuits are made from lightweight, durable, and low-drag materials like nylon and spandex to maximize flight performance.
Now that you have a basic understanding of wingsuit flying, remember to always prioritize safety and seek proper training if you're interested in taking up this exhilarating sport. Happy flying!
The Flight Process
Exiting an Aircraft or Jumping from a Launch Point
When you're wingsuit flying, your adventure begins with either exiting an aircraft or jumping from a launch point, such as a cliff or a building. As you leave the aircraft or launch point, you'll immediately enter freefall like on a normal skydive, but then you'll spread out your arms and legs to create the wings needed for gliding through the air.
If you’re not jumping out of an aircraft like a typical skydiver, but rather performing a parachute jump from a cliff or building, you’ll be doing what’s commonly referred to as wingsuit BASE jumping. As the name suggests, this wingsuit jump combines wingsuit diving and BASE jumping into one.
Glide Ratio and Horizontal Movement
As a wingsuit flyer, understanding the glide ratio is essential. The glide ratio refers to the horizontal distance you travel compared to the vertical distance you fall during your wingsuit flight. For example, if you're achieving a 2:1 glide ratio, it means you're covering two horizontal feet for every one vertical foot you descend.
The glide ratio depends on the design of the wing suit, your body positioning, and your weight, among other factors. The better your glide ratio, the more horizontal flight you’ll experience and the longer your wingsuit dive can be.
Glide ratio as has a big effect on your air speed, in btoh the horizontal and vertical direction. Since you’ll be controlling much of that ratio yourself, you have a fair among of control over how fast you go. While going as fast as possible might seem exciting, taking it slow when you’re getting started will help you learn the ropes and give you a better chance at a safe landing.
Maneuverability and Orientation
Maneuverability and orientation play crucial roles in wingsuit flying. By adjusting your body's position and orientation, you can control your airspeed and direction. For example, by bending your legs slightly and moving your arms back, you can increase your horizontal speed.
Alternatively, widening your legs and raising your arms will slow you down. Practice and develop these skills to ensure a safe and thrilling wingsuit flying experience.
The Landing Procedure: How Do Wingsuit Flyers Land?
Use of Parachute
When you're wingsuit flying, your parachute plays a crucial role in helping you land safely. As a skilled wingsuit flyer, you'll have a parachute rig attached to the outside of your suit, which you'll deploy at a specific time during the flight, which is usually around 1,000 to 2,000 feet above the ground.
This is much lower than the typical height at which skydivers pull their chutes, but it still meets the typical 800ft minimum height needed for a parachute to fully open. It also leaves a very small window for you to pull your reserve parachute if something happens to your main one.
The main parachute helps you control your descent, while a reserve chute is available in case the primary parachute fails. Remember that as a wingsuit flyer, relying on your parachute is essential for a successful landing.
If you’re an enthusiast, you might’ve also heard the legendary story of wingsuit pilot Gary Connery, who landed without a parachute by creating a landing strip made of cardboard boxes. That said, Connery is an incredibly experienced skydiver who performed one of the most dangerous wingsuit stunts of all time, and this should not be attempted again!
Understanding Descent Rate
The rate at which you descend while wingsuit flying is directly related to your glide ratio, which is the horizontal distance you travel for a given drop in altitude. A higher glide ratio means a slower descent rate and a longer flight time. Achieving an ideal glide ratio depends on your position, technique, and the shape of your wingsuit.
As you become more experienced in wingsuit flying, you'll develop a better sense of how to maintain the optimum glide ratio that allows for a comfortable and controlled landing.
- The descent rate is influenced by the glide ratio.
- Higher glide ratios result in slower descent speeds.
- Experience helps in optimizing the glide ratio.
The Importance of Altitude
Managing your altitude is crucial when wingsuit flying, as it directly affects the rate that you descen as well as your available time in the air. Monitoring your altitude will help you determine when it's time to deploy your parachute.
As mentioned above, as you approach the predetermined altitude — usually around 1,000 to 2,000 feet — you'll need to deploy your parachute to slow down your vertical speed and transition to a safe touchdown.
Keep in mind that understanding your altitude also has implications for your safety while wingsuit flying. Being aware of your altitude will allow you to make adjustments and avoid potential obstacles in your flight path.
Tips for Managing Altitude:
- Keep track of your altitude throughout your flight.
- Deploy your parachute when you reach the predetermined altitude.
- Adjust your path to avoid obstacles and ensure a safe landing.
By following these guidelines and understanding the role of your parachute, how fast you descend, and your altitude, you can execute a safe and enjoyable wingsuit landing. Remember that practice makes perfect, so keep honing your skills and you'll soon master the art of wingsuit flying.
Safety Measures and Associated Risks in Wingsuit Flying
Helmet and Protective Gear
To ensure a safe wingsuit flying experience, it's crucial that you wear appropriate protective gear, including a suitable helmet. Helmets protect your head from impact during landings and potential mid-flight collisions.
Additionally, invest in high-quality protective clothing that covers your body to safeguard against injuries resulting from friction and unfavorable weather conditions. Even if you do everything right during your flight and landing, protective gear will go a long way towards preventing even minor injuries upon touchdown.
Maintaining a Logbook
As a wingsuit flyer, keeping a logbook helps you track your progress and identify areas where you can improve. By diligently updating your logbook with the details of each jump, including the altitude, location, type of wingsuit, and any challenges faced, you create a valuable resource that ensures you continually hone your skills and maintain safety at all times.
Importance of a Reserve Chute
One of the most critical safety measures for wingsuiters is having a reserve chute. In case your primary parachute encounters any problems, the reserve chute serves as a reliable backup, enabling you to land safely. Make sure to regularly inspect and maintain both your primary and reserve parachutes to ensure they function correctly when needed.
You might hear about some divers that don’t carry a reserve because they claim there’s no time to pull one if the main fails. This is absolutely not always the case and is one of the reasons you should always pull your chute with enough altitude to pull the reserve if anything goes wrong.
Use of Altimeter
An altimeter is an essential piece of equipment for wingsuit pilots that displays your current altitude as you’re soaring through the sky. By measuring your altitude accurately, it helps you make informed decisions about when to deploy your parachute, reducing the risk of accidents.
Regularly check your altimeter for accuracy and make sure you're familiar with its operation to be confident in your flight's safety. You should never go on a jump with a broken or malfunctioning altimeter, as even the most experienced divers can suffer spacial disorientation and be unable to determine where they are in space without it.
Physics of Wingsuit Flying
Lift and Drag
When you're wingsuit flying, two essential forces come into play: lift and drag. Lift is the upward force that helps you stay airborne, while drag is the air resistance that slows you down. The wingsuit is cleverly designed to increase lift and reduce drag.
By wearing a wingsuit, you transform your body into a giant wing, with the fabric between your legs and arms creating a large horizontal surface called an airfoil. This airfoil is responsible for generating lift, allowing you to glide through the air effortlessly.
Gravity and Thrust
As a wingsuit flyer, you're constantly battling against gravity, which tries to pull you back down to Earth. To counteract this, you need to generate thrust, or forward speed. Although you don't have engines like an airplane, you can use the motion of your body to generate thrust.
To do this, angle your body slightly downward to convert some of the gravitational force into forward momentum. This forward motion, combined with the lift created by your wingsuit, allows you to maintain a stable glide and stay airborne for an extended period.
Weight and Airspeed
Weight and airspeed are also critical factors in wingsuit flying. Your weight affects the amount of lift you can generate, as well as the airspeed required to stay airborne. If you're heavier, you'll need to generate more lift to maintain flight. You can achieve this by increasing your airspeed.
By changing the angle of your body relative to the air, you can finely control your airspeed to balance your weight and the lift generated by your wingsuit. This balance is essential to achieve a stable and enjoyable flight experience.
In summary, understanding the physics of wingsuit flying, including lift and drag, gravity and thrust, and weight and airspeed, can help you have an amazing experience as you soar through the sky. With proper training and knowledge, you'll be well-equipped to enjoy this exhilarating sport.
A Smooth Touchdown
When flying a wingsuit, mastering the landing process is crucial for ensuring a safe and thrilling experience. As a wingsuit flyer, you'll rely on a parachute to help transition from flight to landing, just like with skydiving, BASE jumping, or any other similar extreme sport.
Your wingsuit is equipped with a parachute rig attached to the outside, allowing you to deploy it at the right moment during the flight. By releasing the parachute, you'll slow down your descent and prepare for a secure touchdown on the ground.
To further improve your landing safety, you'll need to adopt the right body position. As you approach the ground, lift your legs in front of you, pointing your toes to the sky. This technique helps you land on your behind or buttocks, reducing the risk of injury upon impact.
Remember to practice and refine your skills, as wingsuit flying is a thrilling but challenging activity. With proper technique and safety precautions, you'll be well on your way to enjoying exhilarating adventures in the sky.