After a rather creative exit from a hot-air balloon at nearly 16,404 feet, the pair (who were harnessed to each other in a tandem paraglider) started an infinity tumble – a high-G inverted maneuver, repeated multiple times. Then, they slingshotted themselves away from the paragalider to skydive down to earth at a ski resort high in the Pyrenees.
Watch the incredible slingshot video below:
While the idea is simple, the execution wasn't. The team started with training – while both are experienced BASE jumpers, they consider themselves pilots first. That meant seven hours of training in a wind tunnel and quite a few jumps so that they could get comfortable in the air. But there was more to it than flying – there was ejecting.
"To do it safely, we both needed to release from the glider together, at a very precise moment, to ensure we wouldn't fall into the glider," Lorens said. The challenge of releasing at the same time was solved with engineering. A custom-made harness release allowed Llorens to steer, while Pitocco would time the exit – still a crucial part of the equation. A badly-timed release would mean falling into the glider. That would impede the release of their parachutes, making for a dangerous situation.
Check out Horacio's other amazing flights around the world.
And on the first attempt, that's exactly what happened. The pilots planned to release at the apex of the jump, with the glider being blown away by the wind underneath them. The release system worked, but Pitocco fell directly on to the glider. Thankfully, he has able to clear the canopy away from his body and then throw his BASE rig. "We realized we had to release while we were still moving forward," Llorens said.
1... 2... 3... release!
Attempt number two went much more smoothly. "We took the hot air balloon to about 14,764 feet and exited by letting the glider hang out of the basket, then tumbling over it," Llorens said. "At 12,795 feet, we did about 13 revolutions and then we released around 11,155 feet. Then it was a simple skydive to the landing at 6,562 feet, at the ski resort of La Molina!."
For the athletes, the peak moment of the stunt was, literally, at the peak. That's where the slingshot effect from tumbling the paraglider shot them up into the air for a moment of weightlessness.
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As they parachuted down, the glider fell to the earth, almost a half-mile away. On the ground, the two daredevils congratulated each other on the successful "ejection" from the slingshot. For Llorens – an acro paragliding world champion, the project was quite a thrill: "One of the coolest things I've ever done in my life."