Wingsuit Flying

See these wingsuit divers soar into downtown LA during the supermoon

In scenes that look like they come straight from a Hollywood blockbuster – watch in awe as three Red Bull Air Force members complete the first ever wingsuit dive into the heart of Los Angeles.
Written by Coty Levandoski
4 min readPublished on
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Andy Farrington

Andy Farrington is a king of the skies with over …

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Jon DeVore

Red Bull Air Force manager Jon DeVore is an …

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Mike Swanson

The undisputed king of the skies!

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Three suits soaring at dawn, spark signals morsing from their left wings as if to announce their coming back to earth. Down, down into the cityscape the three go, weaving in and around the buildings built in an effort to reach the sky they just departed.
Three men having just accomplished something no other trio has: gloriously and successfully wingsuiting into the heart of Los Angeles, throwing superstition to the wind by doing so during a full moon. A supermoon. The third and final of its kind for the remainder of 2019.
The Red Bull Air Force Team (L-R) Andy Farrington, Charles Brian, Miles Daisher, Amy Chmelecki, Mike Swanson, Luke Aikens, Jon DeVore and Sean MacCormac pose for a portrait on March 19, 2019.
The full Red Bull Air Force Team were in LA to support this project
It was a scene out of a Hollywood movie -- a stunt that took just as much planning and skill as something projected onto a silver screen might have.
“All the stars have to align,” said Red Bull Air Force member Jon DeVore. “You need full cooperation from the property owners, the city, police, fire, film commission and last but not least, the FAA. Our team has a long history of successful stunts like this -- a long road to build all the trust needed to make permits come to fruition.”
“For me it started about nine years ago: I was lucky to be part of the stunt team that did the wingsuit jumps in downtown Chicago for the movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Living in SoCal, I’d always dreamt of what it would be like to fly wingsuits through the city like we did in the Windy City. I kept bringing the idea up to everyone I knew who might have connections in LA.
"Then one day, I received a message from part of our team connecting me someone at the Korean Airline building. After a few meetings, we knew we had a great chance at getting permissions and making this dream a reality.”
DeVore jumped with fellow RBAF members Mike Swanson and Andy Farrington who have over 70,000 skydives between them, including this particular southwestern mile which saw them reach speeds in excess of 120mph (193kph).
Andy Farrington and Jon DeVore are all smiles after a successful wingsuit jump over the Supermoon in downtown Los Angeles on March 20, 2019.
Andy Farrington and Jon DeVore with all their kit on
Their line, or route, would take them down and around the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown hotel -- the tallest building west of Chicago, and where the three flyers got a full night’s sleep before the big day. Even after running through the plan “a 100 times” the night before, conditions when they woke up were less than ideal, and it seemed as though there was little chance of being able to take flight.
By midday, the energy was getting low. The weather was poor, and all signs pointed to having to cancel the rehearsal jump. The team still drove 45 minutes to the helicopter, going through the motions knowing it was unlikely they’d jump. After consulting a few key players, they decided to cancel the practice run but still take the helicopter up to scout their line.
Red Bull Air Force Team get ready to  wingsuit fly through downtown Los Angeles on March 20, 2019.
The team's helicopter circles around Los Angeles's InterContinental hotel
“This was a great decision -- the wind was too strong for us to jump so it was a good, safe choice. We were still able to fly around the buildings in the helicopter and really scout our line from a bird's-eye view. But about two hours before our big jump, we realised we had a chance: The weather was starting to break and the winds were dying down," said DeVore.
"The energy quickly jolted back up as we decided it was on and the jump would happen. Once we realised it was on, the team got focused, prepped all the gear, and mentally prepared to do something that no one else ever had.”
But for all the dreaming, planning, and execution, things almost went awry. The worst case scenario on jumps like this isn’t the LED lights on your wings going out, or the pyrotechnics flaring out early -- it’s death. For every jump, and all the preparation, and practice, and skill, there’s always the chance that something goes catastrophically wrong. However slim that likelihood may be, it’s always there.
Mike Swanson soars through downtown Los Angeles in a wingsuit during the Supermoon on March 20, 2019.
Light fantastic from the LEDs on the wingsuit as Swanson soars above
And something did as DeVore explains: “It came at the end of the jump: My parachute had a line twist in it while opening, which left me twisted up under parachute without the ability to steer. My canopy was being pushed by the wind towards one of the buildings, but thankfully I was able to clear the twist and land safe.”
Spectators in the street pause to watch the Red Bull Air Force Team wingsuit through Downtown Los Angeles, CA, USA on March 20, 2019.
Spectators on the ground watch the Air Force team put on their show
They all did, like they always do. Supermen, during a supermoon.
Part of this story

Andy Farrington

Andy Farrington is a king of the skies with over …

United StatesUnited States

Jon DeVore

Red Bull Air Force manager Jon DeVore is an …

United StatesUnited States

Mike Swanson

The undisputed king of the skies!

United StatesUnited States