Wingsuit flying epitomizes one of humankind’s oldest dreams: Flying freely like a bird. But for legendary French athletes Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet, best known as the Soul Flyers, wingsuit flying is much more than daredevil action. Their new video is not only a unique action clip — it's a glimpse into what wingsuit flying feels like.
Shot in the stunning Dolomites Mountains in the Italian Alps, this clip is truly a three-part piece of beauty. The Soul Flyers may only be two, but without the filming and flying talent of the American Noah Bahnson, wingsuit World Champion, the video wouldn’t do justice to what's truly happening in the air.
Each movement, each trajectory in the jump is planned and prepared.Fred Fugen
"The only way to really show these movements and trajectories, and to do it well, is to fly three-way," explains Fugen. "When we prepare these jumps, we are completely synchronized between the three of us."
A three-part jump like no other
For the trio, the idea was really to present a jump composed of three distinct parts. So jumping from a helicopter at 13,000 feet was the only way to make such a long flight happen.
"The goal was to have a first 'true skydive' part above the mountains, where we could do figures," Fugen explains. "The second part was where we near the mountain and fly a little closer, Vince on his back and me on my stomach. Then we kept doing tricks closer to the ground since we were using BASE-jump chutes. Those allow us to open quite low and achieve maximum flight time."
We kept doing tricks closer to the ground since we were using BASE-jump chutes.Fred Fugen
Just because it's called "freestyle," doesn't mean there isn't a plan.
"Each movement, each trajectory in the jump is planned and prepared," Fugen says. "We know exactly what we are going to do. It’s really like a choreography that we practice in advance. We repeat it on the ground, then from a plane over normal drop zones and eventually from cliffs."
More than an action clip
But for the Soul Flyers, this project had a much deeper meaning than just producing another action clip.
"There were a lot of accidents in wingsuit and BASE jumping this year," Fugen says. "Everybody wants to do proximity flying and fly close to the mountain scape. Unfortunately, it often ends with a lot of accidents. Vince and I never really wanted to promote proximity flying. That was never our goal, even if we do it.
"In this video, we wanted to show that the goal of wingsuit flying is not just proximity flying, but to perform technical jumps with skydiving training."
The message is simple: Training is the key to flying better. Reffet and Fugen are the perfect example of athletes who are being creative with their sport, who do things differently and think outside of the box instead of just wanting to go faster, closer and be more extreme. Because in the end, technique is what truly matters.