Stuntman on a wing and a prayer

Updated: 2013-06-03 08:11

By Liu Wei (China Daily)

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Stuntman on a wing and a prayer

Two years ago American wingsuiter Jeb Corliss jumped from a height of 2,000 meters to fly through a cave in Tianmen Mountain in Hunan province, the opening of which is 131 meters high, 57 meters wide and 60 meters long.

ABC News described the flight as "threading the needle or dying".

But that cave, compared to the next location he is flying through in China, Corliss says, was huge.

The 37-year-old will fly through a crack between two peaks of the Jianglang mountain range in East China's Zhejiang province, a gap that is 312 meters tall, 298 meters long and only 5 meters wide.

"I have been flying through cracks, but this one is without a doubt the longest, the narrowest and the deepest crack ever attempted in wingsuit flying," he says.

"If I put my arms out there is only a few feet on each side. And once you drop into this crack, as you drop deeper it gets narrower and narrower, so I cannot open my parachute inside but have to maintain the flight all the way. It has to be extremely precise."

The performance, to be broadcast live, is planned in early October. Corliss will arrive one week early for test flying.

Wingsuit flying is an extremely risky sport in which adventurers wear a special jumpsuit to jump from high up and fly like a bird. The jumpsuit, or wingsuit, adds surface area to the human body, usually between legs and arms, and increases lift.

Corliss will train for the whole summer in Europe and help organize the preliminary selection for the second World Wingsuit Championship to be held on Tianmen Mountain on Oct 13.

In the first championship in 2012, South African Julian Boulle won first place among 15 participants by completing an obstacle course in 23.49 seconds on the mountain. The skydivers jumped off a cliff and completed a 1.2-km-long obstacle course while flying in wingsuits.

Corliss took part in the race, too, but did not enter the final due to leg injuries.

According to Frank Yang, general secretary of the World Wingsuit League, which co-organizes the race, this year the competition will be more complicated and demanding, with two more turns to make over the more than 1,000-meter-high mountain.

The World Wingsuit League will hold a preliminary race soon to qualify eight contestants who will compete with the top eight winners of last year's championship.

Corliss will not compete in this year's race, because he has been training for the Jianglang Mountain jump, which focuses on very different stunts from those needed in the championship race. But he will still participate as a race commentator.

Stuntman on a wing and a prayer

(China Daily USA 06/03/2013 page10)