Wingsuit Flyers Swoop a Smoking Indonesian Volcano

The Red Bull Skydive Team creates a new definition for "smokejumping" over Indonesia's Mount Bromo.
Marco Waltenspiel, Marco Fuest and Georg Lettner celebrate the successful wingsuit formation above the crater in Bromo National Park, East Java, Indonesia on March 2nd, 2015
Smoke on the summit. © Sergey Shakuto/Red Bull Content Pool
By Josh Sampiero

The Red Bull Skydive Team, based in Austria, gets to take in amazing views over the course of traveling the world and performing spectacular jumps, and their latest adventure really turned up the heat, so to speak. The team took a wingsuit flight over Mount Bromo, an active volcano outside of Jakarta, Indonesia.

"You can't feel the heat," said Marco Waltenspiel, one of the pilots, "but you can smell the sulphur. The volcano is like a smoking pyramid. It was the first time I'd seen one."

See the action unfold in the video clip below:

© Wolfgang Lienbacher/Red Bull Content Pool

Amid late-night airplane flights, early mornings and rain delays — thanks to Indonesia's torrential wet season — the project wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

Waltenspiel and the other Red Bull Skydivers — Goerg Lettner, Dominic Roithmair and Marco Fürst, who combined have performed more than 16,000 spectacular jumps — leapt out of a helicopter at over 13,100 feet for the scenic, stunning flight down to the volcano, which sits 7,200 feet above Jakarta.

Red, white and green

The team also took the Indonesian flag for a flight — and that flag wasn't a small one, coming in at almost 33 feet x 49 feet. That said, hooking it up wasn't a problem for the well-trained Red Bull Skydive Team, who quickly started flying in opposite directions to stretch the flag out over the Indonesian sky.

Dominic Roithmair and Marco Furst skydive with the Indonesian flag over Bromo National Park, East Java, Indonesia on March 1st, 2015
Dominic Roithmair and Marco Furst in action © Sergey Shakuto/Red Bull Content Pool

The biggest technical challenges? Thin air and limited space. The athletes rarely fly their wingsuits above 13,000 feet, and less air pressure makes them react differently. Says photographer Wolfgang Lienbacher: "We didn't have a lot of height and airtime to work with. The volcano is already at 7,200 feet, and we were only allowed to get up to just above 13,000 feet in the heli."

Dominic Roithmair and Marco Fuerst skydive with the Indonesian flag at Bromo National Park, East Java, Indonesia on March 2nd, 2015
Dominic Roithmair and Marco Fuerst in sync © Sergey Shakuto/Red Bull Content Pool

While Mount Bromo isn't one of the world's most active volcanos — although its neighbor Mount Merapi (also known as Fire Mountain) is — it has shown regular signs of volcanic activity. Volcanic tremors at the base in November 2010 prompted an evacuation, and not three days later it was spewing ash and smoke, sending a plume 2,300 feet into the sky.

Roithmair, Waltenspiel and the rest of the team considered themselves lucky to score the footage they did. Of three days on site, there were only a scant few hours of flyable conditions, as storms and weather kept them grounded. Nevertheless, it was one of the most incredible flights of the pilots' lives. "To fly over an active volcano was an amazing privilege," said Waltenspiel.

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