BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Sumit Bose reports
"A wingsuit which allows flight"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 12 July, 2000, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Flying suit takes off
Birdmen take to the skies
Taking flight - skydivers try the new wingsuit
For centuries aviators have tried to master human flight, now it appears a new flying suit could allow anyone to fly for real.

Named the wingsuit, it can be used by an experienced skydiver and allows the wearer, to travel horizontally at speeds of up to 100 mph.

It is about to be mass-produced and could revolutionise the world of extreme sports.

Wing suits have been under development for several years and have been tried and tested by enthusiasts.
Jari Kuosma: Norwegian birdman
Jari Kuosma: Wants everyone to be able to fly
Jari Kuosma is a veteran of over 1000 wingsuit flights.

The Norwegian has decided that everyone should be able to enjoy such flights.

"It's just the beauty of flight, its the beauty of freedom. Once you get out from that plane you can really feel that you are free, free from the worries you have in the world", he explains.

"For two minutes you are completely free and I think it should be available to everyone", he said.

Jari believes anyone who's had about 200 conventional parahute jumps can use the Birdman suit after about an hours coaching.

It's just the beauty of flight - for two minutes you are completely free

'Birdman' Jari Kuosma

The suit, known as birdman, looks similar to normal skydiving gear.

But its made from a special lightweight material.

The webbing under the arms and between the legs acts like the wings on a plane, giving the skydiver lift when travelling at an angle.

The flight has to take place from above 12,000 feet.

Then its simply a question of faith.

Normal freefall lasts a minute from this height.

Fly at 100mph

The Birdman more than doubles that time and, importantly, the diver can fly horizontally at up to 100 mph.

Hand in hand - two birdmen in flight
Flying freely hand in hand

Manoeuvring is simply a question of turning the torso.

At such speeds the jumpers cover several miles and have to navigate back to the landing zone.

Already Birdman is proving so popular group flights have been attempted.

Its not cheap - the suit alone costs more than 400.

But for those with the pockets and the pluck, it certainly is the way to fly.

See more tonight on Tomorrow's World Extreme at 7.30pm on BBC One.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories