Watch these guys fly among the shooting stars

Four birdmen chase the Perseid meteor shower across the sky of La Palma in the Canary Islands.
By Santiago Luna

The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower that brought four skydivers and wingsuit fliers to the Spanish island of La Palma: Norwegian Jokke Sommer, Austrians Marco Waltenspiel and Georg Lettner and Spaniard Armando del Rey. Together, these four wingsuit pilots became part of “Lágrimas de San Lorenzo” (Saint Lorenzo’s tears).

The four men wanted with their wingsuits to pay tribute to this spectacular astronomical phenomenon. The idea was to be a part of the meteor shower under the cleanest Northern Hemisphere sky. La Palma is a key location for astronomical observation.

After the sun went down, the men put on their LED wingsuits so the divers could become a part of the meteor shower. The four athletes then jumped from a T-21 plane belonging to the Spanish Air Force, from an altitude of 1,800m.  From such a great height, they achieved speeds up to 170kph as they simultated the meteors around them. They soared over the Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos, an observatory with one of the largest telescopes in the world.

During the Perseid meteor shower up to 500 meteors can be seen in an hour. This phenomenon is associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle and this year its intensity has been five times brighter than usual. 

It’s been a wonderful experience. I felt like part of a video game. I was inside a black tunnel with thousands of stars on my face. It’s been an incredible vision. You really feel the speed but there is nothing around you. It is like being in space. Crazy!

Jokke Sommer

We want to acknowledge the big help given by Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), Cabildo Insular de La Palma and the Spanish Air Force.

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