Video: Fred Fugen’s crazy proximity flight

Skydiver Fred Fugen goes proximity flying – old-school style, minus the wingsuit.
By Josh Sampiero

Want to know what it feels like to travel at 250kph, just 5–10m away from the ground? Watch this video to find out, as Soul Flyer Fred Fugen takes proximity flight to a whole new level, scouring the side of the Eiger sans wingsuit.

“I jumped from about 500m over the Eiger's east ridge,” says the experienced wingsuit pilot. “I actually didn't make the decision to try a proximity flight until I was in the air. I picked up a lot of speed and realised I could make the line, so I went for it.”

It takes a lot of strength and coordination. Once you lock in a line, you don’t want to exit that line until you throw your chute.

While proximity flying is nothing new to the wingsuit crowd, who can see glide ratios of 3:1, it's much riskier in pure freefall, where the best glide ratio he could hope for would be closer to 1.5:1. (That's just one-point-five to one; in other words, a much faster, more vertical descent.)

The lack of a wingsuit means he's using only his body to steer himself clear of the mountain.

“It takes a lot of strength and coordination. Once you lock in a line, you don't want to exit that line until you throw your chute. The high speed let me transfer a lot of energy into forward momentum,” says Fugen, whose excitement is clearly (and audibly) indicated in the video after he releases his parachute. “I was so pumped, I didn't know what I was saying!”

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