It had to start somewhere – but where? Who had the crazy idea of making humans into webbed flying creatures? You’ll be surprised at how long this skydiving discipline has been around. The advent of social media and its stunning videos and images has helped wingsuit skydiving evolve. So, what’s the wingsuit skydiving history? Let’s take a trip in time….
First Wingsuit Jump in 1917
Wingsuiting isn’t a new concept, although it’s only until the last decade that the skydiving discipline has taken off. There are traces of the wingsuit concept in Leonardo da Vinci’s early drawings, but they were more of a flying craft contraption than a webbed wingsuit.
Wingsuit Skydiving Evolution
It wasn’t until the early 1900s did the exploration take the concept to the skies. The first documented wingsuit was of people using homemade suits jumping off of buildings and bridges – idealistic testing grounds and maybe perhaps the birth of BASE jumping, However, the outcome was usually fatal. In 1917, Franz Reichelt “the Flying Tailor” lept from the Eiffel Tower. This is the first known documentation of a wingsuit attempt. In 1920, the “batwing” design was released but did not produce the desired results. In 1937 Clem Sohn showcases the first wingsuit skydive to the world, but the design failed. In 1969 Carl Boenish debuts wingsuit skydiving in the classic skydiving movie, Gypsy Moths,” and the design prevailed. In 1994 with much advancement and technology evolution in the sport of skydiving, Patrick deGayardon unveils the modern wingsuit design.
Wingsuit B.A.S.E. Jumping
Pioneer skydivers and industry jumpsuit manufacturers helped excel in the evolution of wingsuit skydiving. Then, the idea of wingsuiting entered the B.A.S.E. (an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (aka bridge), and Earth) jumping realm. The idea first came about to jump off of cliffs to fly as far as you could away from the cliff to avoid a cliff strike upon opening. B.A.S.E. jumping pioneers took it to the next level and discovered terrain flying was possible. In 2005 the phrase, “Proxy Flying” was coined to describe this kind of B.A.S.E. jump.
The advent of social media has helped grow this discipline exponentially and helped welcome many new novices to the sport of skydiving. There are now several different types of wingsuit skydiving and competitive categories at National and World level events. The technology, design, and training have grown with the discipline to help guide people to a safe progression. It’s as exciting now as it was in the beginning as this new discipline soars!
How To Start Wingsuit Skydiving
If you have a burning desire to don a wingsuit, then you have what it takes to walk the path to success. You can read all about our Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Wingsuit Skydiving!