Wingsuiting is something a lot of our students ask us about. Sometimes referred to as ‘squirrel suits’, wingsuits are jumpsuits that allow skydivers to fly for longer in the sky using their ‘wings’.
Skydive Langar is home of the British Wingsuiting National Championships for 2022, taking place this weekend. The purpose of this post is to give you an introduction to the discipline and tell you more about how the competition will work, so you can follow the fun and perhaps even give it a go yourself!
How does a wingsuit work?
Wingsuits work by strategically increasing drag and therefore reducing fall rate and enabling more forward travel. The positioning and the size of the wings will differ depending on the experience and ambitions of the wingsuit pilot, with smaller wings typically being used by novices and larger or more complex wings by those with more experience.
Who can jump in a wingsuit?
In order to try wingsuiting yourself, you need to have:
- British Skydiving ‘C’ licence
- 500 jumps or 200 within the last 18 months
Once you have met these criteria, it’s important to get a full safety briefing and coaching from a qualified wingsuiting coach, of which we have a few here at Langar.
Wingsuiting coaches tend to be available less frequently than other discipline coaches so if you do intend to come down to learn, it’s worth getting in touch with us in advance and we can try to find a coach for you, or point you in the right direction – email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance.
What do I need to start wingsuiting?
Once you have met the criteria listed above, the first thing you’ll need is a good wingsuiting coach. The coach will be able to advise you on which wingsuit to wear, and in some cases, will have wingsuits available for you to borrow.
It’s worth keeping an eye out for wingsuiting roadshows run by British Skydiving, as these can offer good opportunities to get lots of coaches and students together in one place.
As well as an appropriate and well fitted wingsuit, you’ll also need a rig which is adapted for wingsuiting. Specifically, wingsuiting rigs need to have:
- Throwaway pilot chute mounted in a BOC
- An appropriate canopy – a larger, more docile canopy is recommended
- Visual wrist or hand mounted altimeter
- A slightly larger pilot chute can be an advantage, as can a longer bridle line
This information is contained in the British Skydiving Wingsuiting Manual, and also includes advice on AADs and potential considerations for their use as a wingsuiter.
Speak to a coach who will advise you on equipment and may have something you can borrow if you don’t have what’s needed.
Competing in wingsuiting
Wingsuiting competitions are a great way to build your skills and learn from other people, testing your own flying against theirs and spotting areas for improvement and growth. Plus, of course, competitions are fun!
There are various ways you can compete in wingsuiting, including:
This is where wingsuiters are judged in three areas:
These elements are measured using an on board GPS device (like a Fly Sight) within a competition window of 10,000 to 7,000 feet.
For the time element, the judgement is based on who can stay in the competition zone for longest – so who can maintain as much altitude as possible while flying.
For the speed element, the person who flies the furthest in the competion window wins, based on the fact that their average speed across the ground is fastest.
The distance element judges how far the wingsuiter travels across the ground during the competition window.
Acrobatics is an artistic competition. This means judgement is based on difficulty and execution of moves, making it more similar to freeflying in skydiving, or board diving into a pool.
In the advanced category, teams are asked to person three compulsory rounds, comprising moves that are drawn and dictated to them, and two free rounds, these being routines they put together to show off their skills.
There are other ways to compete but these are the categories available at this weekend’s British Wingsuiting Nationals.
Has this post inspired you? Follow the results of this weekend’s competition via our Facebook page and look out for more wingsuiting events coming soon.