The wingsuit, also known as a birdman, is an innovative jumpsuit that, by creating a greater surface area of the body, allows those eager to feel the sensation of flying glide through the air at a slower speed than if they were free falling. The jumpsuit is designed with fabric between the arms and legs which, creating the same effect as airplane wings, creates a lift which permits a horizontal descent instead of a free fall As the suit has webs that open out, it creates an airfoil gives the flier the shape of a flying squirrel.
Wingsuit pilots also wear a parachute for landing and land in the same style as a BASE jumper or skydiver would. As they approach the ground, they open the chute and then proceed to open the webs between the body and arms and legs.
There are two main methods of jumping: the first one being from an airplane and the second from a firm structure like a building (where BASE jumpers would jump) or cliffs. The effect of the fast moving air when jumping from a plane requires a different technique which is somewhat complicated. The jumper must stretch out at the precise moment to avoid hitting the aircraft, while when jumping from a base like a cliff or building, the flier does this later so as to pick up speed which will enable him or her to glide with the lift effect that´s created from the new speed.
The effect the wingsuit has on the fall of the flier is roughly to the effect of 2.5 which means that for every foot that the flier falls, he or she also advances 2.5 feet. One of the most fascinating and exciting traits of this adrenaline sport is that the flier can control the speed at which he or she falls by changing body positions and for example by shifting their angle, bending or stretching the limbs or the torso which affects the tension on the webbed fabric. The danger of this activity lies in falling in a bad position which can lead to a spin that´s tricky to get out of.
Those interested in Wingsuit flying should look into a company with instructors as most countries have strict regulations and flying solo and the training is quite extensive and more complicated than that of sky diving. There aren´t any actually any international regulatory body or restrictions, but for example in the United States, first timer wingsuit pilots are required to have over 200 free fall jumps under their belt and over 500 to go as solo fliers. The most common providers of training are the actual manufacturers of the wingsuits, a piece of equipment that will run you up approximately 400 pounds (not to mention the mandatory parachute that you will need as well).
This extreme sport is done all over the world but some of the most exceptionally beautiful (and astounding) jumps take place off cliffs, especially in Norway, where many videos of this extreme sport are filmed. For all of those with the disposable dosh, time and quest for adrenaline, this is the ultimate extreme sport which brings humans just that bit closer to defying the rules and laws of nature!