Over his short illustrious career, base jumper Jeb Corliss has completed over 2,000 stunts including leaping off France's Eiffel Tower, zooming through a waterfall in the Swiss Alps and even, flying across the Tianmen Cave, a 100ft-wide water eroded slit, in China's Tianmen Mountain. However, the stunt he pulled recently was so dangerous that it scared the daredevil himself.
This time around the 'flying dagger' as he is now being called, decided to take on a tiny fissure between the two peaks of the 2,677 feet tall Mount Jianglang in China. Measuring about 900 feet long or the size of three football fields, the peaks twist and curve in such a way that at about the halfway point, there is just a 25 feet wide gap between the two. While this may not be a big deal in a jet-propelled flight, given that Jeb propels on his own might using just the wingsuit, even a slight wind turbulence could easily derail his path and result in a crash landing.
But while that may deter most, it was not enough to scare Jeb. On Saturday, September 26th, following several delays caused by high winds, the daredevil launched off from a helicopter in his signature custom-built wingman suit and zoomed through the space at 100mph. While he made it look easy, he later admitted that it was one of the 'gnarliest' jumps he had ever done and that he had never been so scared in his life! As expected, his biggest challenge came at the narrowest point when he was forced to side slip to combat the wind turbulence. If that wasn't bad enough, he had to change his stance as soon as he emerged, so that he could propel himself with full force to make it to the predetermined landing spot.
37-year old Corliss began his career as a base-jumper. Then a few years ago, he adopted the wingsuit - a special jumpsuit that shapes the human body into an airfoil, which can create lift. Also known as birdman suits or squirrel suits, the jumpsuits have been used in some form or shape since the 1930's. But it was not until Jeff began performing these daredevil stunts that wingsuit jumping caught on as an extreme sport. It has become so popular that in 2012, energy drink manufacturer Red Bull decided to host the first world championships. Held at Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, China it was considered so dangerous that only the world's top eight wingsuit divers were allowed to enter and battle it out for the prestigious title.
While Jeb is one of the best, he too has had his share of mishaps in this unpredictable extreme sport. In 1999, a collision with a waterfall in South Africa resulted in his chute collapsing, leaving him with a broken back. A decade later, he broke a leg after hitting a building in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and at the 2012 world championships he was forced to sit out the finals after injuring both ankles and tearing a knee during the qualifying rounds. However all these injuries do not seem to deter this 37-year old who has become for famous pushing the boundaries of the sport by performing all kinds of acrobatic maneuvers whilst free falling!