Popular Mechanics Popularizes Wing Suits

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These guys prove you don't need a license to fly ... but maybe it helps if you're certifiable (kidding, please don't write). "Wing suiters" are taking the latest thrill ride to extremes, jumping miles from the normal parachute drop zone and swooping cross-country to the target at about 90 mph laterally and just 40 mph vertically. The special suits also extend the "freefall" to more than two minutes from 13,000 feet, at least twice the duration of a normal drop. "It's really spooky ," Tim Mace told Popular Mechanics after a demonstration in South Africa. "You get to the point where you think you're going to be there forever." And then, there's aerobatics. The sleeves of the wing suit have vents on the leading edge of the arms. Inrushing air inflates tubular cells, forming a web-shaped wing that spreads arm-to-arm across the diver's back. Triangular wedges also form between the diver's legs to form a tail. Wing suiters are able to do basic flight maneuvers and the 15-hour training course Mace runs also teaches barrel rolls, spins, dives and (we'd have to see this to believe it) loops, according to the magazine. Beginners need not apply, however. Minimum requirement is 500 regular parachute jumps.