Can this new wingsuit fly up?

The Red Bull Skydive Team got to play with a brand-new wingsuit. The question: can it fly… up?
By Gunther Geist

 

Compared to most things that fly, wingsuits are decidely low-tech. No engines, no propellers, no instruments. They're pretty much just a wearable wing. But they can let a pilot do some pretty cool things – like extend the length of a freefall, significantly. There's even one that, technically, can maybe even stop it for a moment…


For the best in the sport, there are only a few manoeuvres that count as legendary. One of them is getting enough speed and lift to actually stop freefall. While some claim to have done it, it's never been ratified. But what the Red Bull Skydive Team know is these new suits let them come closer than ever. Watch the video above – and keep an eye on the action around 45 seconds in.

Up, up and away!

 

 

The Red Bull Skydive team tests new wingsuits
Marco Waltenspiel and the Red Bull Skydive Team © Wolfgang Lienbacher/Red Bull Content Pool

So what's happening? According to wingsuit pilot and photographer Wolfgang Lienbacher, the guys are testing a new suit that combines the features of a high-speed, high-glide performance suit (which are usually bigger) with the maneuverability of an acrobatic stunt suit (usually smaller.)

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What that increased manoeuvrability lets them do is come even closer to stall speed – essentially, swooping down fast, then changing the angle of attack to create more lift. While they don't come anywhere near a standstill (they retain forward motion) it's pretty cool to see the guys effectively 'stall' the wingsuit. 

The flights took place during a training camp in Bovec, Slovenia, where the team jumped 25 times over the course of three days.

Would they definitely were able to fly 'up'? Nope – that's questionable territory. Previous claims were hotly disputed by the wingsuit community. Are they going to grab the proper instrumentation to document the flight, and try again? It sure sounds like it. 

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