How the Soul Flyers shocked the world by finding a door in the sky
In a homage to the trailblazer Patrick de Gayardon, Soul Flyers Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen pulled off an audacious flight from a Swiss Alps mountain top into a moving plane.
November 2017 will forever be marked in the minds of Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen as they pulled off a first by BASE jumping from the 4,518m Jungfrau mountain into a moving plane.
The initial idea was a way to pay their respects to flying predecessor Patrick de Gayardon, who had famously exited a plane and landed back in for what was a first some 20 years ago.
The flight preparation:
Understandably, with the logistics involved, it was far from a simple operation. As Reffet put it: “It involved a huge amount of preparation.”
It required a skilled pilot in Philippe Bouvier as well as his co-pilot and project coordinator Yves ‘Jetman’ Rossy, an ex-fighter pilot. It involved a myriad of planning both on land and also in the skies above to try something that had never been attempted.
The false starts:
There were no shortage of bumps and bruises as the Soul Flyers attempted training runs that repeatedly ended with them bashing into the side of the plane.
But having managed it in training and with a break in the dire weather, they attempted the record, landing by helicopter on top of Jungfrau with a 3,200m drop and with less than three minutes from take-off to get into the plane.
The complexities of a standing start to a plane already travelling at 150kph had added complexities, and both Reffet and Fugen missed their entry point.
The flight of a lifetime:
So, with 100 test flights and an abandoned first attempt, they went again two hours later, and both landed in place only to be greeted by riotous celebrations in the air and back on the ground.
Fugen said: “It was a spectacular moment. Right now our thoughts go to Patrick, who was the first to re-enter a plane. We wanted to do it differently by jumping from a mountain. It is a huge achievement.”
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