Wingsuiting is an amazing thing that humans get to do. If you have ever had a dream in which you can fly, or have sat on a commercial flight with your face pressed up against the window wishing that you could simply get out and zoom about among the white fluffy clouds – then putting on a parachute and a ‘flying-squirrel suit’ and jumping from an aeroplane is how you can make this a reality.
Like all of life’s best adventures, there is some effort involved. You cannot jump straight away with a wingsuit on – first you need to learn how to skydive without one and build your skills in the various areas that will give you the physical and mental tools required to add what is an extra layer of complexity to what you are already doing up there in the sky.
Modern wingsuits are very well designed to make them as easy to fly as possible, but they can still be challenging and require discipline specific training to set you up for success. With proper instruction from a suitably qualified and experienced wingsuit pilot the process is enjoyable and here at Oklahoma Skydiving Center we have everything you need to get going from wherever you currently are in your progression.
The current USPA (United States Parachute Association) requirements before you can go skydiving in a wingsuit are 200 jumps within the last 18 months. Alongside this baseline number, wingsuit manufacturers have additional guidelines for the suits that they have available, requiring a specific amount of experience in their smaller designs before you can move on to the larger and more powerful models.
While this may seem like a great deal of work if your current number of jumps is either zero or not very many, do not be dismayed – the greatest pleasure of a skydiving career is learning to understand that the journey is the important thing, and that every step from your initial skydive through to putting on a wingsuit for the first time is part of an amazing adventure filled with life-enhancing experiences. Also, everything you learn from the very beginning to the point where you have enough experience to do you first wingsuit jumps is crucial practice and experience for when you get there.
Belly Flying: Building shapes on you belly with some friends gets you practicing how to move around safely and successfully in the sky with others in close proximity. The more people there are in your group the greater your awareness needs to be of what is going on around you and formation skydiving starts you off correctly.
Freefly: Learning to Freefly is about applying the surfaces of your body onto the relative wind to fly yourself around in any orientation – which vastly increases your understanding of what is happening to your body in freefall. Wingsuits restrict your body in some ways and provide additional performance in others – so the better your understanding of how to use your body the better pilot you will become.
Tracking: Tracking means using you body to move through the sky in a particular direction – either alone or in a group – and contains vital elements that relate directly to wingsuiting such as how to navigate where you are going in the sky, and the correct techniques for flying together in formation. Wingsuit design and performance gets better with every passing season, and it is easily possible to cover many miles over the ground when jumping from 13,000ft – making it potentially very easy to end up in the wrong place if you are not paying attention.
Practicing these things along the way and putting them together gives you the physical skill set and muscle memory you need when flying a wingsuit. Also, your time spent in the sport is another important element. Being on the dropzone and around other skydivers will give you the opportunity to vacuum up all of the knowledge you need to be a safe and aware skydiver. Skydivers like to talk about everything related to there sport and their specific disciplines, and you will hear lots of stories from others that have been around for a while that are often very entertaining and contain useful lessons which you don’t have to learn by trial and error.
Whether you are yet to make your first jump, or have already embarked on your skydiving journey – here at Oklahoma Skydiving Center our highly experienced staff have everything you need to progress toward your wingsuit flying goals in an enjoyable and supportive way.
Also, yes – you can make zoomy aeroplane noises in your head if you want to.
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