The Art of Wingsuit FlyingBy: Breanna Casper


What is a wingsuit?
It is a suit with three wings between the arms and legs. The wings inflate because of the wind and form an airfoil. The wings provide lift and allow the pilot to glide long distances. Since the wingsuit is a type of glider it has three forces that act on it: lift, drag, and weight. These forces are vectors because they have both magnitude and direction. For a glider to fly it has to generate lift to oppose the weight it is feeling. To create lift the wingsuit has to move through the air. The motion of it through the air generates drag.

Computer drawing of an airliner showing the lift vector.
Computer drawing of an airliner showing the lift vector.

How far can you fly?
How well you fly depends on the glide-ratio (lift vs. drag). This is the forward distance flown for every meter of altitude that is lost. The distance can be greater if you fly with the wind (downwind). It also depends on how much stamina you have because it takes a lot of muscle strength to fly the suit well.

How fast can you fly?
The average speed is around 100mph but the direction flown with regards to the wind has a influence on the resulting ground speed. When the wind is at the back during the flight the wind speed actually adds to the speed of the wingsuit.

How slow can you get the suit to fly?
When flying you can either fly at a slight dive position, which is aimed at flying the farthest you possibly can, or a more flat position, which is used to keep the suit flying as slow vertically as possible. This results in a long frefall time but the performance in terms of distance is less.

Can I try this?
200 skydives is the bare minimum experience needed in order to learn how to fly a wingsuit. In some countries the number of required jumps is 500 before you can fly a wingsuit. Since this is an extreme sport more experience is always better then less.

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