It's a sport dangerous enough that some areas ban it. While BASE jumping and skydiving in regular clothes are both risky, wing-suit jumping steps up the danger level a notch. That's because the suit actually makes you fly faster, said Mick Knutson, editor/founder of the online BASE jumping magazine, BLiNC, who has logged almost 1,000 BASE jumps, including 500 in a wingsuit.
Think of a wingsuit as a spoiler on a racecar, Knutson said, changing air flow to accomplish a certain goal.
"We're trying to modify the air to redirect our body more horizontally across space so we don't hit the ground and get a longer flight," he said.
Wing-suit jumpers either jump from a fixed object, like a building, antenna, bridge or cliff, in which case they fall into the BASE jump category, or any type of aircraft, in which case they fall into the skydiving category. Either way, the idea of the suit is to position the body to fly horizontally. A parachute slows the landing.
When engaging in a wing suit, a jumper can slow their vertical fall rate to 60 to 120 seconds of free fall, compared to 8 to 15 seconds of free fall without a wing suit.