October 17, 2012
Millions of TV viewers throughout greater China today experienced the thrill of the world’s most daring sport as the World Wingsuit League completed the first round of its Grand Prix wingsuit race at Tianmen Mountain, near Zhangjiajie in Hunan province.
Wingsuit flying is the art and sport of flying the human body through the air using a s
pecial jumpsuit, called a wingsuit, which adds ram-air-inflated airfoils to the arms and legs of the human body so that wingsuit “pilots” can actually fly their bodies like gliders: They can’t go up, but they can glide at angle of more than three feet forward for every foot they go down.
Fifteen wingsuit pilots made two breathtaking flights each in pursuit of a place in tomorrow’s final round of eight, which will be broadcast live at 1 p.m. tomorrow in greater China, Taiwan, Macao and Hong Kong by CCTV, Hunan TV, Jiansu TV and multiple other networks in Asia.
South African Julian Boulle set the fastest time yet recorded on the race course that descends more than 2,600 vertical feet toward the city of Zhangziajie, clocking a 23.10-second time on his second flight. Norwegian Espen Fadnes finished second with a second-flight time of 23.43 seconds, followed by British pilot James Boole with 23.92, also on his second flight.
The remaining five finalists, in order of finish, are:
Jeff Nebelkopf (USA)
Tony Uragallo (UK)
Jon Devore (USA)
Jhonathan Florez (Colombia)
Mike Swanson (USA)
“We are honored to put on this sports spectacle that has captured the imagination of a nation,” said WWL president Iiro Seppanen. “Our pilots were highly motivated to do their best – and they did!”
“I look forward to doing even better tomorrow,” declared Boulle. “Everyone else will be flying for second place.”
“I have him right where I want him,” laughed Fadnes. “Ahead and over-confident!”