Born in Mississippi in 1970, Charles Bryan was a 21-year-old rocker in the process of recording an album for A&M Records when he first jumped out of a plane. By 1993, he’d ditched his rock star aspirations and had moved to Arizona to pursue skydiving full time. Today, any cursory research into the history of ‘freeflying’ will undoubtedly bring up the name Charles Bryan.
In 1997, Charles broke the world record for being the fastest human in suborbital freefall – reaching a whopping speed of 327mph! However, when you’re setting the world record for fastest freefall ever, there are certain things you want to avoid: like pulling your parachute too soon. “If I’d pulled when I was going 327 miles per hour, I would have been ripped to shreds,” says a matter-of-fact Charles. “So I slowed myself down to a more reasonable speed first – somewhere around 150.”
Just about managing to keep this superstar’s feet on the ground back home in California are his wife, Annica, and their children, Emma and Rocket. The family is totally behind Charles’ pet project for the future: an attempt to recapture his now-broken world record. “My goal is to blow it out,” Charles asserts. “With skill and technology, I think I may be able to reach 400 miles per hour”.
In 2010, Charles, along with his Red Bull Air Force buddies, starred in the Red Bull film 'Human Flight 3D' in which the team participated in a wingsuit proximity flying competition. While the film is partly fictionalised, it is an authentic look into the dangerously thrilling culture and elite aerial sport of skydiving.Read more