It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Jeb Corless
BASE Jumping and Wingsuit Flying are just about as dangerous as it gets. In fact, a number of prominent Extreme Sports publications still dub it them ‘the most dangerous sports in the world’. If you’re like most of us, after hearing those ominous titles you’re probably wondering, ‘what does it involve, who’s crazy enough to try it, and how dangerous is it really?’
Well, to put it succinctly, there are a small number of people insane enough to attempt such feats. There are still a few of the original enthusiasts out there to detail their narrow misses with death while soaring through the air. One of those trailblazers is Jeb Corliss.
To give you an idea of what BASE jumping actually looks like, just picture yourself atop the one of the highest structures known to man...now just jump off it! Yes, you do have a parachute strapped on that needs to be pulled quickly for a safe landing...but still! BASE jumping is actually an acronym standing for Buildings, Antennas, Span (bridge), and Earth (meaning cliff). This acronym is a reference to all of the places that a BASE jumper can take their plunge. You can read more about it here.
Now, the next (logical???) step is Wingsuit Flying. Imagine, now, that same person dons a bodysuit that includes webbing between the legs and the arms. More than just jumping, these people are able to "fly" off, in and around some of nature's and mankind's highest and most dazzling structures....places were no others can go.
Man's fascination with flying has taught these people to masterfully hold out their arms and legs attempting in order to catch the wind in the webbing of their suit. They then soar through the air looking quite a bit like flying squirrels (in fact, this bodysuit is often called a squirrel suit). When the jumper has made it to a safe height from the earth they deploy their parachute and glide effortlessly to the ground.
Either jump starts with a plunge (With or without a squirrel suit) and ends with a gentle glide onto a safe site. At least that’s what’s supposed to happen when all goes according to plan. Unfortunately, all too often things in this world of sports does not go according to plan.
There are a number of tragic jumping deaths each and every year. Some of the most renowned names in the business have died, even after working for years to develop their skill. As such, BASE jumping and Wingsuit piloting are outlawed almost everywhere that peaks can be found. There is no jumping in any of the national parks, and for good reason. The sport is dangerous both for the individual soaring through the air, as well as those that might act as crash pads below.
One of the biggest names in the field is Jeb Corliss. Jeb has successfully completed jumps from and flights around some of the most iconic spires in the world. He has catapulted off the top of the Eiffel Tower, from the head of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and from the twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. Jeb has been a main staple in the sport since the early 1990s. He has free jumped off of mountain tops, bridges, buildings, and out of helicopters. His career, though impressive, has not been without injury. Like most still living who enjoy this extreme sport, he has suffered all manner of potential disaster during his jumps.
In fact, almost 20 years ago he sustained an injury while BASE jumping that would have kept most of us away from the sport for the rest of our lives. While in South Africa his parachute opened in an asymmetrical manner, causing him to fly into falling water and drop straight to the earth. With a few broken bones and an awareness that he very nearly could have met his end, he decided to gear back up and continue his pursuits around the world. Jeb was also barred for life from the Empire State Building after he was caught attempting to jump from the tower’s observation deck. Since this sport is so dangerous, authorities do all in their power to prevent people from jumping in public.
Jeb constantly sets his sites on more and more complex jump sites. He looks for narrow ravines, jagged mountain peaks, and the tallest skyscrapers. Unfortunately for most people in this sport, they’ll continue attempting increasingly difficult jumps until one day they find out first hand why this is referred to as the deadliest extreme sport.